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Our Apiary – Avoid thunderstorms

Sunday 12th May

We had switched this session to the morning because of a thunderstorm weather warning for the afternoon. In the end the storm never happened in our apiary and it remained hot and sunny. Further North there were violent thunderstorms.

Getting ready to inspect the hives.

Bees don’t like thundery weather so we were half-expecting to have to pack up and go but they behaved impeccably. You never can tell. One of our very experienced members had gone to check one of her colonies the day before and they were so cross she withdrew quickly. This was a colony that is usually very placid.

A good frame - brood in the centre surrounded by stores

In Hive 1, which is where we are moving the bees up from a Commercial box into a National, it seems they have swarmed. There were some Queen cells and fewer bees so one capped Queen cell was left, the rest taken out. Last week some Queen cells were found but did not seem to be charged.

In Hive 2, which has Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus we put the floor back in last week. This week we did find some dead bees on the floor. However there were very few bees with the symptoms.

Last week we found some torn down Queen cells but this week we found one with the top chewed off which is a sign a virgin had emerged. We couldn’t see her, hopefully she wasn’t out on a mating flight as we were looking through, so next week we will be checking for eggs. There still seems to be enough bees but time is running out for this hive as there are no new bees coming on. Last week they were short on stores so we have been feeding them but this week they had plenty of stores. Obviously there is no brood for them to feed so they are bringing in a lot of nectar as well as using the syrup we gave them.

In the WBC the Queen is laying well, and we found about 11 frames of mostly capped brood. It is on double brood with 2 supers, one of which is nearly full. No signs of swarming yet and few drones.

Removing a lift from a WBC

Hive 4 (which is the only hive which survived the winter) is doing well. It is on brood & a half which is not ideal and is what happens when you run out of equipment at a vital time and have to put on any box you have to hand. There were some Queen cells along the bottom of a frame but it was difficult to see if they were charged. There was a charged one right in the middle of a frame which is usually a sign of supercedure. So on balance it was decided not do an artificial swarm which would have been an option if we had seen more charged Queen cells. We may be wrong and find next week they have swarmed.

Queen cell in the middle of the frame.

A Queen cup it is a Queen cell if a queen is in there or has emerged. This looks more like a queen cup.

And di we find a queen?

Is this the queen we were looking for?

The image above may be the queen - and yet none of us saw her at the time! We did see plenty of drones and workers. Here is a picture that compares the two.

So much of beekeeping is looking at the different permutations to a situation and having to decide the best option. So…….. we will see the results of our decisions next week, hopefully we will have made the right ones.

A drone and a worker on a frame bar

The good thing is that during last week they have all been bringing in nectar so they all have plenty of stores which may be needed if the forecast for this week is more rain.

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