Tuesday, 24 June 2014

June Gap ?

There's a lazy sort of buzzing in the apiary.  Nothing hectic.  No hurtling around.
This, in N N'land is the June Gap.  The Rowans have finished flowering.  The May (aka June) blossom is over.    But.....................................
Cerinthe (Honeywort)
Meadow Buttercup
London Pride

We aren't short of forage.  The Flowers just take a bit of finding.

Anyway, remember that your honeybees are storing up for winter now.

The 2 nucs. are bringing in pollen - a good sign that they may have reared queens. The next inspection QB will report on their progress as I plan to go through the nucs thoroughly.
Watch this space.  Where's John-Bee?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Artificial swarm technique

QB used to get quite upset when she came home from work to find a swarm hanging from a branch ready for the "off".  Then I found you could make the bees think they had swarmed.  Here's how.

First, during May to (say) early July  I go through each hive every 7 - 9 days (every Sunday afternoon).
This can be quick if time is short.  Just looking for Q cells.
On the day I find any I carry out an "artificial swarm".
1)  Move original brood and floor to the right by 2'.
2)  Place a new brood box and floor in its place.
3)  Find Q. in original brood. (This is when I'm pleased I marked her)
     Place Q and comb in centre of new brood box. Add empty drawn or new combs either side.
     NB making sure there are no queen cells on the combs.
4)  Put Q excluder and supers with bees intact from original hive.
5)  Leave entrance open about 2-3bee width - the foraging workers will come back to the queen.

6)  Now for the original hive - 2' away.
     Go through the brood box.  Remove all sealed Q cells. Leave 2 or 3 unsealed Q cells ie with well-developed larvae.
7)  Put on crown board and roof.  I usually feed them 1:1 syrup about 6-8pints.
     Close entrance to 1 bee width .
     Remember there are only nurse bees/eggs/larvae in this hive so no bees on guard duty.
8)  After 1 week move this hive to the left of the new (swarm) hive.
     This is so any bees which are now foraging will go back to the old queen and swell the numbers
     until the brood builds up.
If the queenless colony fails to rear a laying queen OR if you want to replace the old queen you can combine these 2 colonies through newspaper later.

Old Queen marked red - when I found her I put the comb in a box to deal with later.
Then at least I know where she is!

The left photo. shows the "swarm" hive (new box on old site) ready to receive the old queen and her retinue.
The right photo shows the "swarm"
brood box with the frame with the old queen and bees reinstated. Next add QX/supers/crownboard/roof.

This is the original hive - feeder in place as there are not yet any foraging bees to collect nectar and pollen.

Hope this is clear and not too late. Keep on BZzzzzzzzzzzzzing!!        

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Much too hot to work with bees .... but...

QB hasn't been able to inspect the bees properly for a week or more. Plenty of time for my White Hive colony to plot some mischief. This is my strongest colony and I will expect to see at least some queen cells with larvae and royal jelly.  Sure enough on combs 2 & 3 there are 3 Q. cells (not sealed fortunately!) hanging along the top bars.  This usually indicates supersedure of an old queen.  Their queen, who I haven't been able to see/mark, is 2013.
On comb 4 there she is. A beauty - large and black.  I always have the marking cage and pen ready so
managed to put a bright red spot on her thorax (as well as on several workerbee attendants!)
It was becoming quite obvious that an Artificial Swarm was necessary.
How I did it and pics. too will be in tomorrow's blog.
QB dashing off to water the garden.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Solar wax extractor - don't waste your wax.

The solar wax melter is working overtime today.
I collect every bit of wax - old comb, scrapings off QX and top/bottom bars etc.
Throughout the summer these bits get thrown into the extractor which has a perforated zinc screen.  The wax melts and the bits of debris get left behind. Some beekeepers put the wax bits in an old pair of tights and we know someone who puts them in old pyjama legs!  Scary!!
The resulting wax can be kept in the freezer if you haven't time to deal with it.

This is what you get at the end of the summer.
The box is stored away in the winter and the wax can be used for candles, polish, cosmetics etc. but it may need a bit more filtering through muslin to get it absolutely pure.
You can make it into blocks and trade it in exchange for sheets of foundation from your supplier.
The pic. shows some of last year's wax (1kg)- several different colours depending on where the bees have been foraging.
Quite a nice piece of modern art don't you think?