Malcolm’s Topical Tips – 2017 Apr 16

The swarming season is upon us

I have just checked some of my colonies at the slab castle apiary. This was during a session with the beginners. Of the six colonies that belong to me, two of them had queen cells. A good proportion of these were already sealed ( and yes I did check the box last Saturday with Helen and didn't pick up that they were making preparations to go). One box had swarmed, the other had been unable to do so as I had clipped the Queen and she is now lost.

If you have a large colony (for instance seven frames of brood in a 14 x 12 brood box) you might consider pre-empting the bees and splitting the colony before they make queen cells. I am assuming that you are already prepared with a spare hive and frames made up with fresh foundation. However this would be a disaster for a small unit, so only do this if your colony is strong.

The bees in the box of brood will make Queen cells. Go back after 3 days and choose a good open queen cell. Mark the frame this is on with a drawing pin. Go back in another three days and destroy all queen cells except the chosen one.

On the original site you will have the Queen on one frame of brood. This box  needs a rapid feeder on as they require a lot of sugar syrup to draw out the new brood nest.

Your honey crop is placed above the brood nest where your bees are making Queen cells. As long as you only leave one Queen cell (remember you have to go back twice) your honey crop won't fly off over the hedge. This box should be ok to handle because the bees are younger, the foragers returning to the old queen on the original site. This box should continue gathering honey as for a month there will be no brood and they will have nothing else to do but collect honey for you.

I hope this email arrives in time for you to be able to take pre-emptive action if it is required.

Malcolm Wilkie 16th April 2017


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