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Our Apiary – More manipulations

Sunday 2nd June

Hive 1: The Queen cell top had been chewed off so hopefully a virgin has emerged. This hive is on 2 boxes, a Commercial and a National. The bees came in a Commercial and we put a National box on top hoping to draw the Queen up there. Once the Queen was upstairs we would be able to remove the Commercial. There was no brood in the Commercial box, only a bit of stores so we decided to brush all the bees off into the National. There is some good drawn foundation in the box ready for her to lay so we have to hope she gets mated successfully.

Workers drawing out comb on fresh foundation.
Workers drawing out comb.

In Hive 2: (CBPV hive) Last week we thought the Queen was doing well but this week we didn’t see that many eggs. So, it is building up but slowly. We did mark the Queen or at least our beginner did, very successfully for a first attempt.

Hive 3, 3a and the Nuc.: Last week we left one open charged queen cell in each hive. Today we found all the queen cells had been chewed open so potentially they each had a virgin. They all had enough bees and stores.

The Nuc which we set up last week from the WBC hasn’t worked. The Queen cell had been opened but no sign of a virgin and very few bees. Some of the larvae in the open brood had died because there were too few bees to look after it. They look black which is a sign of chilled brood.

So, despite the frames being covered with bees when we put them in and shaking more in, there was obviously not enough to keep the brood going.

In the WBC we found a few Queen cells in which there were eggs which seem to have just been laid, they were very small. It is was difficult to see inside some of the cells to check if there were eggs in them being as they had put the cells on the edge and bottom of the frame.

A hive running on a double brood.
A hive running on a double brood. - not at the apiary.

In the picture the lower brood box is the white one. Above that there is a brown brood box and above that there is the queen excluder.

So we decided to do an artificial swarm. This colony is on double brood so we set up a new hive to one side with one brood box with 2 open Queen cells and all the brood. On the original site we put the other brood box with the Queen and one frame with some brood on and the rest foundation, drawn and new. Each had a super of stores put on.

This time of year is the busiest and possibly the most fraught. This is when you can easily get caught out, as we we were 2 weeks ago, with colonies swarming before we had been able to do any swarm control. Even with 7-day inspections you can miss the signs. You then lose half your colony with the Queen and if you have been very unlucky, they have also thrown casts.

Small swarm in an apple tree.
Small swarm in an apple tree from earlier this week - in my garden!

If, on the other hand, you are lucky and all the various ‘splits’ work you can double the size of your apiary.

Next week we might have more definitive proof our splits have worked.

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