Well, this is it, my very first blog post.
I decided a while back that I wanted to keep my own bees and I now have the opportunity to do just that. I haven’t got them yet – it’s winter and they’re busy keeping warm in a small nucleus hive owned by the local beekeeper’s club. Over the next couple of months I’ll learn more about how to keep them healthy and happy so I don’t mess up as soon as I get them. Then it’s years of learning and producing lots of bees, honey , wax candles and polish .
Over the next few blogs I’ll describe how I got to this point and what I’ve learnt already and who I’ve been learning from. I’ll also start posting on Twitter and Instagram to keep as full a record as I can.
No change from last week. Except the main hive now has very few bees, so even if the queen shows up there aren’t enough workers to feed her and look after any eggs she lays. The plan is to merge the two hives together but I can’t do it until next week as I need to get them in the same location.
Lets hope nothing happens to the second hive in the meantime otherwise I might end up with no bees. It also looks like I won’t get any honey again this year, but you never know.
Still no sign of the queen in my main hive. The number of bees is rapidly diminishing as there are no new eggs, larvae etc to replace the old ones that are dying off. I think we need to take action, possibly by adding a frame of brood from another hive.
My second hive is still doing quite well. The number of bees is increasing week by week but it may be that I have to unite it with the main hive to give it a chance of surviving rather than just adding a frame of brood.
In the meantime I’m still working towards learning and, more importantly, remembering everything I need to know to pass my Basic Exam.
Following on from yesterday, I checked the smaller hive today; although it’s now in a proper National brood box.
The queen in there seems to be doing really well. There was everything from eggs to larvae to capped brood. The workers are also ‘drawing out’ new honey comb to give the queen more room to lay. I had given them some sugar syrup last week to encourage them to produce the wax needed, but there must be a good nectar flow as they’ve hardly used any of the syrup.
Two weeks ago I had two hives with queen cells where the queen had emerged and I was waiting for them to mate and start laying. The smaller of the two hives (the nucleus hive) has a laying queen and is doing ok. The main hive there was no sign of the queen or any eggs or larvae.
Last week we added a new open queen cell to the hive. If the original queen was there the bees would destroy the cell. They didn’t, so she must have failed for some reason or never came back from her mating flights. She might have been picked off by a bird who thought she was a tasty snack; we’ll never know.
Now I have to wait for the next queen to emerge and see what happens. Hopefully she’ll mate properly and make it back to the hive and start producing lots more bees.
After the last couple of weeks’ activity I can’t wait to see what my ‘girls’ have been up to since I last checked on them.
Went to check whether or not they were behaving themselves but because of the weather we didn’t dare open the hive up.
Haven’t seen so much rain in one session for a while. Fortunately the hive is on a hill so there was no risk of flooding. There was also some pretty big claps of thunder which bees don’t like.
Have to wait until the weather improves for the next update. In the meantime I’ve started studying in earnest for my ‘basic’ exam later in the year. They call it basic but actually it’s pretty full on and there’s a lot to learn. It’s a combination of practical and theory. I’m certainly more comfortable on the practical, handling bees and gives bit. Need to knuckle down and get to grips with the theory.
Remember last week with all the queen cells? Well the little tinkers have gone and made another one. Looks like a supercedure cell too. Guess they’re not happy with the existing queen. So that’s six in total; four are sealed ready to go; one is charged; one is a bit runty. Do I need to change my plan?
Not according to my mentor. Well, not drastically anyway. What I haven’t said is this week there are no signs of any eggs. I have small larvae ranging up to capped brood but no eggs.
The new queen cell we’ll keep to make a new queen for my existing hive. There are two queen cells on one frame and I’ll donate those to the group hives as they need some new queens due to losses over the winter. I’ll keep one decent queen cell to put in the poly nuc to make a new hive for me.
One other thing to add into the mix is that the workers are quite happily chaining to make wax. I’m told that is a sign that the original queen is possibly still around. Can’t wait until next week to find out what other tricks my girls have in store for me. One thing I know for sure is that they are good at keeping stores. Just wish they were in the supers so I could steal a bit from them.
Aaagh, it’s all happening very quickly at the moment. First proper inspection of the year and what do I find; queen cells, that’s what. Not one, or even two, but five; and three of them are charged. So my little girls are up to mischief.
Fortunately I have a very good mentor to help me this year and he knows exactly what to do. The plan is to split the hive and I’ll end up with two, which is good because there’s exactly what I want. But what’s the best way?
Don’t know if this is the ‘best way’ but we’ve shaken all the bees into the bottom brood box and put the queen excluder on top, then put the two supers on followed by the second brood box that contains all the queen cells. Then next week, armed with a poly nuc, we’ll leave the old queen where she is and put the queen cells in the nuc. Wait for the new queen to hatch, mate and start laying. At that point I’ll put them into a proper National hive and away we go.
What could possibly go wrong?!