now most of you will have taken your summer honey crop off your hives. You will
have given the supers back to the colonies so that they can lick out the wet
frames and a couple of days afterwards you will have removed those supers.
records will show the quantity of stores in your brood box and it may be that
you will have to feed so that the colony can gain a bit of weight. However it
is now very important to ascertain the disease status of your colony. This is
because from August winter bees which contain more fat bodies are being raised.
These are the bees that will survive for five months and so they need to be
week I put in my inspection trays in order to count the natural mite drop of
varroa. It is also a good idea to thoroughly examine your colony and shake the
bees off the brood frames and have a good poke about. This will give you an
idea whether you need to do something now. A lot of treatments depend on
temperatures being high enough and you will only have a window through August
and into early September if you do need to treat your bees against the varroa.
are a set of short video clips. I went and helped Mark (one of this year’s
beginners) and we did a full disease inspection of one of his colonies. I hope
this gives you some ideas what you’re looking for.
It is best to put the Queen in a Queen clip before doing these manipulations:
the last few years more and more people have joined our association and there
are now over 200 members. In part the increase has been due to the number
of people successfully completing the beginners course and who have understood
how to overwinter colonies.
there has been a new development because one of our members, John Miller, has
started to do some Queen rearing. As those of you who have been to Norman
Beresford’s talk on Queen rearing and my own talk about the use of apidea
mating hives, Queen rearing is difficult. You need strong colonies, healthy
colonies and time. It is an activity that is difficult to fit around a regular
job! I myself have tried several times and it has never really worked!
did our beginners course only a couple of years ago. From the outset he has
been successful. From a couple of colonies, he soon had 18 and I believe he is
still expanding! However when you have this many colonies it gives you options,
and when you have options it makes it much easier to Queen rear.
accompanied us to France last August and stayed with Christophe Gauthier.
Christophe is a master beekeeper and raises numerous queens every year. John
came back enthused and this year decided he would graft (like Christophe) and
try and get a colony to raise two batches of 20 queen cells (40 Queen cells in
total). He has used a cloake board and I believe combined three colonies in
order to be able to have a strong enough unit to raise the grafts that he gave
them. His partner, Sue, did a lot of the grafting . All is going to plan and
his sealed queen cells are now in an incubator and should be hatching on the
11th of June. This is fantastic. I am in awe that he has achieved this.
As all of you know having virgin queens is only the start of the process. These virgin Queens will need to go into mating hives and if they successfully mate they will have to be introduced to a Queenless nucleus.
the very fact that there are going to be a large number of virgin queens in
cells that can be easily transferred into mating hives is a great start.
John is using an incubator and Queen cell protectors so if all goes to plan
there will be piping virgins emerging soon. And of course John has chosen a
calm colony which is also a good honey gatherer and this is the colony he has
grafted from. This has never happened in the Association to my knowledge. Other
associations in Sussex do not raise Queens in this way. It is going to be so
useful to association members and help those who get themselves into difficulty
over Swarming. I am thrilled and excited that one of our members has got to
this level in his Beekeeping.
of today I can confirm that John’s Queens have hatched. You can see from the
pictures below that the Queens have carefully cut around their cells in order
to get out. John’s pictures are of cells that were in his incubator. My picture
is of one of the queen cells I removed from one of my apidea mating hives.
cells in Queen cell protectors in an incubator. Picture
Discovery of a charged queen cell. Notice small “c” shaped larva swimming on a pool of royal jelly. Picture
The queen found and put in a clip. Notice the blue dot. Picture
Chaos. Now the queen is in the queen clip all frames can be shaken and all queen cups/ queen cells destroyed. Picture
The brood nest has been split with two pieces of foundation. The clean frame(marked 2019) can be easily seen. The other frame is three frames in from the front of the box. This was already in the hive at one end but has now been moved in order to split the brood nest and give the bees work to do drawing it out. I stress this can only be done with a really strong colony. Picture
Just a warning to everyone
that we are experiencing a huge nectar flow. Temperatures have jumped, trees
are in flower, the ground is still moist from all the winter rains and the bees
Brood nests are becoming
nectar bound. The bees are trying to create extra space and building comb.
Remember that bees can fill a super in two or three days if they are a big unit
so you may need to go back, check them and add an extra super.
Helen Hadley, our honey queen, is running around like a madman. She has large Buckfast colonies and they are already congested. Look at the photos.
The bees have even started putting eggs into Queen cups.
That means that because the
box has been congested they have decided that they had better build queen cells
She is going to have a devils
own job to put them off. Once bees start preparations for swarming it is
difficult to make them change their minds.
I have been helping Morris
McGowern with his bees. On Tuesday he had half a colony of bees. There was at
least six frames of space. Today the box was completely full of bees and all
the frames were full of nectar. We had to put on a super. Even I was surprised
at the rapid growth of this colony. As I’ve said before the difference between
a good beekeeper and a bad one can just be a matter of a few days. Go and check
your colonies now! I hope you are in time.
Video-1 Lesley checks Queen excluder having lifted corners with her hive tool. The paper on the hive is non-stick greaseproof paper and there are the remains of a Neopoll pollen patty beneath which was added in February.
Video-2 How to remove the first frame with a J tool.
Video-3 Using the wedge hive tool and removal of the dummy board. Removal of the greaseproof paper. Using the smoker correctly.
Video-5 Evidence that a nectar flow has started. These pictures were taken on Sunday, the 5th of April. Evidently a large colony is going to need a super. This Colony already has a super although they are not in it yet!
Image-6 A picture of worker brood and larvae above. The bees look healthy. No K-wings. Many bees look furry, so they are young bees. A good sign.
Image-7 Picture of some drone brood at the bottom of the frame. It takes 24 days to raise drone. These cells are sealed. In 12 to 14 days the drone cells will hatch. Then it will take another 12 to 14 days for the drones to sexually mature. In theory new virgin queens can then mate with these drones. This makes swarming possible from early May (2nd/3rd/4th of May). It makes swarming likely in the week of the 18th of May with a large colony.
Video-8 Correct use of a smoker and wedge. How to correctly manipulate a brood frame in order to inspect both sides.
Video-9 Looking for an unmarked queen. She appears at the end of the clip. However if you are observant she briefly gets into the camera shot about halfway through. See if you can spot her. If you can find and mark your queen now it is so much easier. If marking multiple Queens make sure you clean the crown of thorns and/or the Queen clip in your soda solution. If you transfer Queen pheromone from one queen to another the second colony may kill your queen! The good thing about marking a queen at present is that she is dominant in her unit and there is less likelihood of an accident when re-introducing her because of you having marked her. When putting her back in the hive always introduce her between two brood frames. And watch her like a hawk to make sure she goes down and doesn’t fly off! Also liberally use cool smoke to cover up the fact that you have been touching her.
Video-10 Correctly calculating how to disturb the bees the least possible once an inspection is over. Using the wedge to create space for the dummy board; notice how Lesley levers the frame away from the side of the box.
Video-11 Cleaning the queen excluder so as not to crush bees. Top/bottom bee space and correct use of a wired queen excluder. As Lesley has bottom bee space, notice which way up she puts her wired queen excluder. This helps prevent crushing bees. [Link to article on: Bee space]