I don’t know whether everyone has noticed, but there is a crazy nectar flow on at the moment. Lime is in flower and only exudes nectar when the temperatures are in the 20s and this also applies to clover. I had put a super on a badly diseased colony (chalkbrood) that I had just treated for a month with Apiguard and they filled it with honey in a week. I could barely lift the super and it had been empty last week!
In my opinion this nectar flow is going to continue for a while as sweet chestnut is just coming into flower and the temperatures don’t show any signs of dropping. When I inspected my hives yesterday a lot of the colonies were chucking nectar into the brood nest and, of course, one of the colonies had built queen cells.
The danger is that eventually if we get no rain the bees will have nothing to collect. However at the moment I’ve got honey coming out of my ears!
What do you do if you suddenly find Queen cells and you have absolutely no equipment left? Well, you commit the ultimate sin. You remove frames of stores and then you break the brood nest with frames of foundation. Basically you try and give the colony a lot of work to do and that can be successful in taking their minds off swarming. You will have to put those stores in a sealed plastic box and it would be a good idea to spray them with Certan against Wax moth. Don’t sin if the colony is not strong. However, if they are thinking of swarming, they must be strong!
The other thing you should do is extract the honey if the super frames have been capped. Then they will have space to collect all that nectar.
Enjoy the current flow and put supers on urgently. People say about gardeners that the difference between a good gardener and a bad one is a week. The same applies to beekeepers. The good ones have picked up that the flow is humongous and are busily putting supers on the hives. It may have dried up by next week but at the moment it is crazy. The bees are probably out from 4:30 in the morning until nine in the evening! Don’t forget we are also very near the summer solstice and that means that the hives contain the maximum number of bees, so the foraging force is at its very highest.
If you don’t do anything about this flow, then your bees will become congested in absolutely no time, the Queen will have nowhere to lay and the consequence of all that is that you will lose a prime swarm and, of course, your honey crop. Good luck everyone! The bees are giving us all a headache so make sure you return the compliment so that you don’t lose a swarm.
Malcolm Wilkie 29th June 2018