Sunday, March 12, 2017

First Inspection of the year!

I completed my first inspection of the year yesterday.  It seems late I know but there just really hasn't been a good enough weather window when I was around.  Anyway the fog lifted, the sun came out and I leapt at the opportunity.

I wasn't sure what I'd find; the bees have been quite active so far this year so I was hopeful to find things were all settled and in good shape.  And generally that's exactly what I found! Although I have to say they seemed further advanced than I was expecting for mid March.

We have 3 hives, all had mite treatment in December, all have been active, some more than others...

Hive 1:
This is the hive that is nearest the big house (on the left in the above photo) and I think this has been the most active over the winter; at least every time I have been to the apiary this hive has had the most bees flying.  When I arrived yesterday I found a great crush of bees trying to enter the hive, many laden with great piles of pollen.  

This hive comprises 1 deep and 2 supers.  We left the supers on over the winter with heather honey we couldn't extract. I found there was quite a bit of honey stored in the supers, together with significant quantities of brood (see the following photo)!  There was plenty of pollen in the supers near the brood as well, so apart from the fact the brood is in the wrong place the bees looked OK.  

The deep was empty of brood but did contain some honey so I decided to move the supers (and therefore the brood) under the deep.  I hope the supers will gradually empty and the deep will fill with brood. I'll pop on a Queen Excluder on soon.

Hive 2:
This hive has a single deep and 2 supers and is usually quieter than the first and sure enough there were fewer bees around the entrance. Inside the hive I found lots of stores in the both supers, but no brood.  In the deep (at the bottom of the hive) there was a tonne of brood - 5 or 6 frames worth in a lovely pattern, a nice oval with some space for laying in the middle, together with pollen and honey surrounding the capped cells.  This is looking really,  really, strong!

The thought occurred to me that perhaps the reason they were quieter was down to the fact they had more stores in the hive and so didn't need to venture out as much!

I popped a Queen Excluder under the supers and will keep a watch on the brood - certainly on a week by week basis.  I think this could be my main hive for splitting this season - We have the necessary equipment available but I have nevertheless made some enquiries about additional stands, OMF etc.

Hive 3:
Dave's Hive. This hive comprises 2 deeps and a single super.  One deep contained brood and stores, the other deep had no brood and was mostly empty of stores.  The super contained some stores. I left the deep with brood at the bottom of the hive, slipped a Queen Excluder over this then added the super and finally the deep (which is a 'new' one) on top.  I may well use this deep for the future split. Again this hive looks to be in good shape.

I removed all the entrance reducers, the mouse guards and the OMF screen boards; the latter to help improve ventilation within the hive.  I found in all hives a lot of condensation, in the frame rebates and particularly at the top in the roofs where there was some mold growth too.

So it was an excellent first inspection.  The hives look strong and more advanced than I expected for the time of year.  I will have to keep a close eye on them, most particularly the middle one as the brood chamber is filling quickly.  Opportunities therefore exist for making splits.  I need to get organized, get some existing equipment cleaned up and buy some new deep frames and foundation.

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