Finally, the weather has settled. The
majority of my colonies have had the queen taken out on a nucleus. The parent
hives have requeened themselves and as some of the colonies are very populous,
nectar is pouring into the colonies.
Some have only one super, others two
and yet others three. Lesley has two colonies with four supers on. Nothing like
the Honey Queen who has had eight supers on a hive in the past, but I am quite
happy with what I have.
Here in St. Leonards and at the out
apiary at Kent Street the flow is tremendous. If you shake bees off a frame
nectar wets everything including the bees.
So now it becomes a management issue.
Bees need space to put all that ingress of nectar somewhere and so one needs to
check they still have room to put it somewhere or otherwise they will chuck
that excess nectar into the brood nest and stop the queen laying. And worst-case
scenario, that could trigger swarming for a second time. They need warmth (good
that there are high temperatures at the moment), and they need good air flow
around the super frames so that they can more easily ripen the nectar into
So, make sure there is no vegetation
under the hive, that the entrance block is on a larger setting and look
carefully at your super frames.
Helen advises one to remove the two
outside frames to allow a good airflow. I also separate the frames a little to
help this process as well. If I have two or more supers on a hive I am thinking
about the contents of each frame. If I want the honey capped, I place it right
above the brood ( the warmest place). Then once it is capped, I may move those
frames up into a top super and move others that I want to be capped down just
above the brood nest.
Adding another super or not is a fine
judgement call. Too many supers and they chimney the honey and you don’t get
the outer frames filled. But you always have the option of course of removing a
super with only three frames of nectar and exchanging those frames for empty
ones in the super below.
In many areas in the High Weald the summer
flow goes on until the end of July and then that’s it! So, decisions made in
the next two weeks are crucial. We need to help the bees to cap that honey ASAP
so that it can then be extracted, enabling us all to then get on those summer
treatments : thereby ensuring we get healthy winter bees with minimal levels of
So, my final tip is to order your
treatments NOW. A lot of you use thymol products and these are brilliant if
used when the temperatures are high. But using them in September when night
temperatures start to drop is much less effective. So, if at all possible, get
those treatments on in August ( supers removed of course). By doing so you will
have strong colonies that will overwinter better and will romp away in the
What an odd season this has been. One
or two of Lesley’s colonies have wanted to swarm twice. Boxes of bees are
mushrooming all over the place in her garden and in the out apiary. We have had
to contend with rape honey (but at least I was on the ball, and we did two early
extractions using the refractometer on uncapped honey).The honey set in the
jars overnight but it is absolutely delicious and naturally soft set.
We are now getting really high
temperatures and colonies could overheat so do shade roofs. But for the moment
it’s all about the honey ….
Malcolm Wilkie – 19th