Saturday, 31 May 2014

New Kids in the Apiary

We have 2 nucs. set up by a friend whose bees made a lot of very nice Q. cells.
My apiary is the "stud",  with my drones being around when the 2 virgins hatch. We're keeping the black-bee strain as pure as possible.

We put the nucs. on old WBC floors to lift them off the ground.

Also we have kept the entrance tp 2 bee-width.  The colonies will not be strong enough yet to defend their stores.  We don't want to risk robbing.
Each nuc. has 5 drawn combs. 2 outer with honey and pollen; 3 with eggs and brood - the middle one with the precious Q cell. If all works out the Q's will hatch/ mate/ start laying after 2 weeks.

This is a good way to do an artificial swarm if you're a bit short of equipment.
The day is too nice to waste indoors so I'm off outside.
I will not be even taking a little peek inside the nucs.Tempting though it is.
QB will be back later with a report on today's adventures in Beeland.

Monday, 19 May 2014

MidMay Inspection (using cloths)

 This is Cerinthe - or Virgil's Honeywort.  The purple 'petals' are bracts.
These flowers are rich in nectar and are very attractive to all species of bee - esp. bumblebees.

Today's temp. here is 19C and well worth a full inspection of all hives.
This picture shows the open "Blue" hive using canvas cloths to keep the bees from flying around upsetting the rest of the hives

Using 2 cloths which you roll / unroll to expose 1 frame at a time.

 You can easily make these yourself using canvas cut to the size of the box (super or brood) width-ways and 20cms or so lengthways.  Turn the ends over to make a pocket in which to slide a piece of flat wood to weigh the ends down when in use.
Any questions?  Add to "Comment" at the end of this post.
All hives had masses of stored pollen in the outer frames - a sign that the workers are ahead of the Queen?
 After a thoroughly lovely afternoon with my bees I dutifully wrote my noted obsevations in my specially designated book.(Not on bits of scrap paper which I am likely to lose!)  Sometimes, if future action is needed I write it on a piece of card and leave it above the crown board.
Add caption

Time to roll up the cloths making sure no little (inexperienced) youngsters have got trapped.
Hope your day was as good as mine.  QBzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Hot weekend coming - great for good inspection.

Some friends I met in Helmsley!  There were definitely no crows in this garden.
When we got home from our hol. in Y'shire the wisteria had begun to flower. The honeybees haven't found it yet but it's covered in v. big bumblebees.  There is one on this pic. A sort of black blob in the  middle of the top flower!
Next blog I'll show how I use cloths to keep my bees from coming out of the brood box and creating an unholy buzz around the apiary.
My laptop's playing up a bit so my next blog may be a day or two.
Hot weekend coming - good time to have a really thorough inspection. Check for early signs of swarming plans - lg. no. drones/queen cups/no eggs. QBxx

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Higher temps. than expected - Get in there!

Today turned out unexpectedly HOT! 
QB has just come back from the Yorkshire Dales where Summer has started.  May blossom, Horsechestnut, Oak, Sycamore etc etc. Learned how to play the ancient game of Merrills.
Anyway - decided today was the day to inspect the colonies.
I think it very important to have a pre-rehearsed (mentally) plan before opening up the hives.
Today - gauge the bees' mood and behaviour.
           - check stores.
           - examine brood nest for all stages of brood - eggs, larvae, capped brood.
I always lift to one side the super(s) and cover with quilt or cloth. I like working with cloth covers
to reduce the number of bees flying around getting excited.
Lifting off the QX is done carefully to make sure the Queen isn't clinging to it. She could end up in
the top super when I reassemble the hive -- happily laying eggs among the stored honey! Not good.
Taking out the first frame (on the right) and then working across left, carefully examining each surface
I look for all stages of brood, pollen stores and nectar. If I don't see the Queen but do see eggs I know she's about.  If I do see her I have the marker pen and cage to remark her after a long winter when her marking may get picked off by her attendants.
White Hive :  very strong; good mood; drawing out new foundation; 1 full super/ started on second.
                 :  brood nest on 4 combs of all stages eggs/ brood/ capped.
                    Capped drone cells (about 15)
 Yellow Hive : Medium strength; good mood; plenty stores in 1 super; loads of pollen in brood box.
                     : brood nest on 3 combs of larvae and capped brood - didn't find any eggs. BUT ......
                       we got a sudden thunder shower so had to close up very fast.
Blue Hive -  will have to wait till another day.

Sorry no pics today - rain stopped play.
Happy bee-keeping - BZZZZ QB

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Some news

Northern Bee Unit workshops - Sat. June 14 Finchdale College, Off Chester Low Rd. DH1 5RX. - or-
Newbiggin Village Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0HT

Basic Syllabus - Sat. 10th May - Alnwick Bee Keepers Ass.- contact Ian Robson 0783317399

Report of colony thefts in Scotland.  If buying bees ensure they are from a reputable source.

Willow-leaf Pear is in full flower now!  The bees
love it and so do the birds. We have hung a
bird-feeder amongst its pretty branches. They
can feed and hide from the sparrow-hawk 
at the same time!

I've inspected the colonies and found -
White - 5 combs eggs/brood
Blue   - 2 combs eggs/brood
Yellow - 3 combs eggs/brood

WHAT ABOUT RED ?  I hear you cry !!
I could not believe my eyes !
Red colony has completely disappeared.
There is uncapped nectar in 5 deep combs - but NO eggs/brood.
There are 8 shallow combs of capped honey in the super.
Absolutely NO bees at all.
Any explanations will be welcomed.  QB is distraught.