At the moment competent Beekeepers are
all looking closely at the weather forecast. Most Beekeepers only will open up
and inspect their bees once the temperatures have risen to 15°. However if you
have already missed the boat for inspections when we had a spell of warm-ish
weather, you may now be getting nervous.
If you have your bees in a sheltered
site and they have been building up nicely you will notice that there is a lot
of activity and a lot of pollen going into the hive. So what should you do?
Well this is what I would suggest.
Everyone has the option of lifting off the roof, lifting off the crown board
and looking at the cluster of bees. I am not talking about doing an inspection
and breaking the propolis seal between the frames, I am talking about observing
how many seams of bees there are in your hive. This sort of quick look can take
as little as five minutes and doesn’t really bother the bees at all! Do use a
So what is the point of doing this?
Well, if you have eight or nine seams of bees then you can pop on a queen
excluder and pop on a super of drawn comb. The very presence of lots of bees is
telling you that they need a super. Another indication may also be that they
are building brace comb in the hole in your crown board. This is a message that
they need some more space. Or worst case scenario there are hundreds and
hundreds of bees milling about on top of your crown board. The latter scenario
means the bees definitely need a super NOW!
The trouble is that the conditions we
are experiencing at the moment are forcing the bees to stay at home. Margaret
Mawson (one of our more experienced members) always says that if the bees are
forced to stay at home early in the season, this encourages early swarming. It
is as if they get fed up with mother and therefore decide to divide. It may
also be because if the foragers cannot get out the bees feel cramped for space.
Congestion leads the bees down the path of early swarming.
You can also get yourself ready. Build
the frames that you have bought and place foundation in those frames. Once
conditions warm up in a week or so you will be able to do an inspection. If you
find that your brood box contains too many frames of stores you will then be
able to remove one or two frames (put them in the freezer). Then discover where
the edge of the brood nest is and place one of the frames of foundation next to
the brood nest. If you have a prosperous colony with lots of young wax builders
then they will draw that out for you and this will give the queen room to
I suspect in a week’s time once
temperatures jump there will be a big nectar flow. There are lots of blossom
trees out at the moment and once temperatures rise above 13° the flow should be
This morning in Lesley‘s garden in St
Leonards the bees were going mad. There had been a frost and temperatures were
cold but the Sun now has heat and the bees became active by 9 am. Observe the
following videos and see the amount of pollen going into the hives.
You will also find that if you have put
out water trays the bees are collecting water and taking that back to their
hives in order to dilute their stores. They are building up quickly and before
you can say Jack Robinson they are going to be needing that super and if you
don’t give them that space then you know what the consequences are going to
Hope this helps,
– Nucleus colony
– An old queen that has undoubtedly been superceded
– This colony was only a 3 frame mating nuc with onr frame of brood 5 weeks ago
– Look at the pollen going in – The entrances on some larger colonies need to
be made larger
– Bees collecting water
– A water collector bee
Malcolm Wilkie – 13th April 2021