Friday, May 26, 2017

End on May - Lovely Weather and an Almost Healthy Swarm

It's fantastic weather here today; about 25 C, a clear sky and breezy.  I went over to the bees just to have a look at what they were doing. I didn't intend to ruin their day by rummaging through their nests. Let them get on with it is my maxim - although that changed...

There was a lot of activity in the garden; bees busy charging in and out of the hives. I was just content to have a look from the outside, but after I got to chatting with Dave about the good weather and the prospect of good foraging prospects this weekend we decided to add a super to his hive. The single super he has there (HIVE 3) is already quite full and I suspect the bees would draw out some more foundation if it were added.  

As I carry my equipment in the car it is easy to get ready, although I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Once I ad added the super I couldn't resist taking a quick look under the top covers of the other hives - a lot of bees inside and some heavy supers too. More supers will need to be added over the next week I think.

Some more thinking...

I was enjoying the weather so much I thought I'd take a look at the new swarm hive Dave caught just over a week ago.  This was very calm but devoid of any brood and eggs - Queenless!  However they were active and drawing out comb well.  They simply need some eggs.  After more discussions we decided to take them from the smaller of the two established hives I have (HIVE 2)  This has been the better tempered of my hives but has still been quite feisty at times. I donned an additional sweatshirt over my t-shirt, and got into the hive; after a lot of fuss and bother lighting the smoker - I really must get some better fuel. 

I was not really bombed by the bees, even after I shook them from the frames to check for eggs and larvae - quite a surprise. And although I didn't see any I'm hopeful I got some eggs.  I definitely got larvae in the frame so I know there's a resident Queen about in the donor hive. Once I selected the best frame I walked it around the corner to the new hive and popped it in.  I'll ask Dave to check in this hive in about a week, just to make sure there are queen cells being formed. If not it will be back to the donor for more frames.

So events do take over and ruin our plans - a bit.  I went just for a look and ended up doing some major manipulations - I love it.  But that should be it for the weekend. 

Spot the hives...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Split progress

The split I formed on 30/4 (Hive 4) appears to be on the road to success!  I did an inspection yesterday (14/5) and found at least 2 capped queen cells. This means two things. The split contained eggs and the old queen remained in the parent hive (Hive 2)!  Just what I wanted! In a couple of days there should be a new queen in residence.  Give it a couple more weeks and with luck she'll be laying! So no further inspections until early June!

I did go through Hive 1 but this was quite feisty and I got stung a couple of times.  It is bursting with bees and looks ripe for a split, but I didn't do this as I felt they were not very accepting of me. I will go back wearing more protection - layers on my arms!.  I did however add a third super - bottom supered.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


I've been back to the apiary once since Easter to see my bees and they weren't too bad - their behavior seems to be a bit erratic and unpredictable this spring.  The last time I was there (a couple of weeks ago) it was poor weather but I managed to get though the bees; enough to see that they were doing really well and were potentially in need of splitting.

On my visit last weekend (30/4/17) I found that I successfully trapped the queen in Hive 1 in the deep and the supers are now clear of brood - although there are some drones kicking about above the QE. I might have to go back and shake these supers out in order to clear all the drones. So this hive is set up well - there were no sign of queen cells!

Hive 2 was bursting!  I popped a second deep on a couple of weeks ago and this was pretty full of bees. I was half expecting this so I was prepared to make up another hive (thanks to Dave for preparing all the wooden-ware etc.).  I went through the upper of the two deeps to try to spot the queen - no such luck; but there was brood, eggs and lots of bees.

I decided to relocate this entire deep into a new hive (Hive 4), frame by frame.  My intention was to have them raise a new queen from eggs. I also gave this hive a partially full super.  If the queen wasn't with the bees I moved and there are eggs, by next weekend (6/5/17) there should be some queen cells present and my work was successful, so far.  If there are no queen cells in the new hive then the queen was in the group of bees I moved and there should be some queen cells in Hive 1.  Not quite what I was planning but I think that should still be OK. Again, I saw no queen cells in Hive 1. So that's a plus too.

I didn't look though Hive 3 (Dave's original hive).  I think I was pushing my luck by this time and so I decided to beat a retreat.