Saturday, May 26, 2018

New Swarm - First of the year

I got lucky the other day.  I got called out in a Facebook post for a new swarm located just up the road from home (Bramshott Chase).  I made a couple of calls once I arrived in the general area and I quickly located them. It had been wet most of the day and they were looking a bit bedraggled.  However, that isn't all bad because as it was damp the bees weren't flying and consequently i would imagine all were present, trying to keep dry.


I found them less than a meter off the ground on a low branch.  Couldn't be easier! A sharp shake of the branch and they dropped into my swarm box; picked up a few stragglers, closed the lid and off I went.  I quickly got them installed in a hive at home where they can settle in before I can determine what to do with them.

Yesterday I fed them some syrup and put a frame of donated brood from an other hive and so hopefully this will be the boost they will need to get properly going; not that they will need it - they has already started to draw out the foundation in the new hive.








The Nuc is doing well

You may recall that I took some bees away from the apiary - a weak hive - and located them in my nuc/observation beehive to see if I could coax them through the winter.

Well they have been doing well and did manage to get through winter well enough.  I wasn't sure how well as the first time I made an inspection there wasn't much brood.  However, now they are booming and I'm worried they might swarm!  The queen is laying good solid brood and most of the frames have brood in them now.


Not the most sensible thing to do...
I swapped a frame of brood from the brood area with the partially drawn out comb that was in the observation hive. I hope this provides space for the queen to lay in and eases the pressure on space in the box.

I also donated brood to the hive that contains the new swarm I caught on Thursday.  Once again I will go into the observation hive and swap brood with empty comb and I can keep things under control a for a week or so.  Why?  Well I'm going to take the bees into a local School in just over a week and also to work to illustrate a Positive Mental Health Talk I give - "5 Ways to Positive Mental Health". I'd like to prevent a swarm as I have plans to unite this strong nuc with a weak hive at the apiary.


Spring Manipulations

The weather has been pretty mixed through the winter and early spring. I didn't really manage to do much of an inspection at the apiary until the beginning of May.  When i did manage to get in what i found was reasonable, not great, but not bad either.

Hive 1: My old aggressive hive that I am still nervous about. This is doign well but it 'stuck' together.  I need to go through it and separate frames and deeps/supers; locate the queen, stick in a new queen excluder and reorganise the hive.  There are now 2 supers on it and one is more or less full.  When i reorganise I hope to be able to get a third super available for filling.

Hive 2: This was in a good position.  Lots of brood, the queen is no on the correct side of a queen excluder and 2 supers are located, again one is pretty much full.

Hive 3: Not so good.  It appears this is Queenless.  I found a single queen cell with a larvae in it but few bees and brood.  I suspect the hive swarmed before I got to the inspection. So the plan is to relocate the observation hive to this or to combine it with the new swarm.  We shall see what the single queen cell produces!

Hive 4: This was in reasonable shape and probably somewhere between the extremes of the other hives. We put a super on this hive, but it needs a queen excluder and maybe another super.

ll in all things don't look too bad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Early Spring Inspection

It's been so cold of late - well at the times that have been open for me to get to my bees - that last Friday was really the first time this year I've been able to look through my hives. It all looks quite good really.  I'm not sure what I was expecting for a first inspection; I always think the hives are going to be bursting with new brood and the hive on the verge of swarming.  The reality is normally very different.

None of my hives had much (if any) brood and I wonder whether the cold snap we had a couple of weeks ago hit them hard.  But they were good tempered and seem to have sufficient stores in house.  Certainly enough now that Blackthorn is in flower. Apparently the bad weather we just had is termed a 'Blacktorn Winter' as the snow and cold followed the flowering.

I removed some of the supers that were left on the hives over the winter.  Several of these contained frames of set (Ivy) honey. so i need to figure out what to do with that!  Now all my hives are down to a single deep and a single super which seems manageable for the time of year and none have queen excluders in them. I did reverse one super - I saw the queen in this and decided to do a reverse to encourage her to move up - I'm ever the optimist!

All this means I'm going to be hands off for a couple of weeks, or a month. Mid-April always used to be the first real nectar flow in Missouri, and although it's very very different here I'll wait until at least then before I do anything else, other than perhaps just sit by the hive enjoying their activity!

It's also good having my observation hive at home close at hand and I'll take a look in it as soon as I can. This is my base line as I always thought they we're the weakest hive coming into winter. If they survive then the others must be doing well! 

To date, in baseball parlance,  I'm "5 for 5" with my hives. Five into winter and five out (so far). Life is good!