The polystyrene hives are made and housing a couple of colonies of local bees. They are from a friend and local beekeeper who took 2 nucleii of bees off one of his hives. One is doing better than the other but this seems to be because one was much larger than the other. I’m trying to balance them up by moving brood frames between them and it seems to be slowly working.
I also now have a swarm of bees resident in my top bar hive. They are producing some lovely new white comb, but the queen hasn’t started laying yet. Might be the weather?
On the down side, my original hive isn’t doing so well. I’ve split it into two but neither new hive have got going very well yet. I know the bees know what they’re doing but they often don’t do what you’ve anticipated. I guess as a beekeeper you always have to expect the unexpected.
Inspecting a hive
Swarm in the top bar
Look at that lovely new honeycomb
Polystyrene hive parts
Having put the bees to bed over the winter I needed to prepare for the next season as I wanted to have more than just one hive. I decided that due to costs the way to go was to get a couple of polystyrene hives. They were about half the price of cedar ones and actually had more boxes I could use. (Normally I wouldn’t consider something that isn’t recyclable but cost was the main factor this time around)
The kit came from our local supplier Maisemore Apiaries and arrived in double-quick time. They went together really easily and are just the job. Pictures in future posts.
A couple of days ago, together with 6 other members of our beekeeping group, I took my basic beekeeping exam. Although I’m in my second year I’ve only had my own bees for just over 12 months.
There is a practical element to the exam where we have to inspect a hive (not our own) and comment on what we see. And also an oral test with the examiner asking g lots of questions about the lifecycle of bees, how to manage swarms and what diseases and pests there are.
I think I did ok on the exam, but I’ll know for sure in about a week. One of the main benefits of passing is that I can then manage my bees on my own without having to have someone with me. Plus the fact it means my knowledge is at an ok point right now.
There is still a lot to learn, see and do but the advantage of joining a group is that there are experienced people around to learn from and help us along the way.
I think the next exam is on Bee health but I’ll have a little break before diving in to that one. Think I’ll save it for the winter when there’s not much to do at the apiary. The bees don’t hibernate but they get less active and don’t leave the hive very often.
Where has the time gone since my last post. A lot has happened and I must get better at keeping this game updated or I’ll forget what I did.
Since uniting my hives (one with a queen, one without) things have got much better. The queen seems to be a good one and is laying well and the number of bees has increased substantially. Despite the hot, dry weather they seem to be bringing in a good amount of nectar and pollen. Won’t get any honey again this year but I’d rather the bees have what there is. Maybe next year will be better.
In terms of numbers of bees it’s hard to put a figure of it but at the last inspection there were 7 frames that were almost completely full of eggs, larvae and bees yet to hatch. That’s a lot!
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.
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?!