Malcolm’s Topical Tips – 2017 Jul 06

The crazy nectar flow continues

This is the first time since I began beekeeping seven years ago that I have experienced such a huge nectar flow for such a sustained period of time. When I am out and about gardening there is still moisture in the soil and weeding is not difficult. This is unusual for me as a gardener at this time of year and is a clear indication that plants can get hold of moisture and express nectar. Coupled with high temperatures this is leading to a huge nectar flow.

What is the consequence for our bees? On opening up hives yesterday I have discovered that the bees are chucking nectar into the brood nest. For me this is of concern because I know that if this continues that is going to trigger swarming. Why wouldn't a hive want to divide given the perfect ideal conditions that we have got at the moment? I have already lost a swarm from a really good box of bees and I am just kicking myself. They were congested and I should have known that that was the case. I was also silly in that I left them for one week without checking. A mistake given how strong a hive they were.

So what can you do? As usual you need to respect the adage that the brood box is for brood. Remove frames of stores and place foundation into the brood box. On a hive that is not too strong, place the foundation at the edge of the brood nest. On a hive that is very strong, place the foundation into the brood nest. Remember this is a sin but given the current conditions we had all better sin than not. Then you need to check your supers and, of course, give the bees  a super with foundation so that they can be kept busy drawing out wax.

I refer you all to Willy Shaw's article about how to renew comb. This article is in the current BBKA magazine. On a strong hive he is removing four frames of stores and splitting the brood nest four times. In a week, given the current conditions, a strong hive will draw out those four frames of foundation (Lesley and I have done that on her strong hive and they certainly drew out the foundation no problem. In fact they drew out four frames of foundation placed in the brood nest and a whole super of foundation placed just above the brood box). And that should take their minds off swarming for the week. The other thing that you can do is to extract the honey you have on the hive. This, of course, will give the bees more space. However if these conditions continue, the challenge of  (a) how to prevent them swarming and (b) making sure that they are not congested, is going to continue. Good luck and try not to lose a swarm as I did, particularly as she was my best queen.

Malcolm Wilkie 6th July 2017

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.