Tuesday, 28 April 2015

First Spring Inspection

Yes, it's OK to check our colonies by watching their comings and goings.
Lots of pollen, various colours, being brought in, vast quantities.  A good sign that the Q is laying - lots of little mouths to feed!
However, we've had some very warm days (eg.20C) so I took the opportunity, when they were all
too busy to notice me, to go through each colony in turn. I  changed
the floor, varroa tray, porch lift and any other lifts that need a coat of paint.  I have 5 colonies, all looking strong -  3 Green queens,
(marked) (2014) and 2 Red queens (marked) (2013). That's the good news as young, marked queens make life a whole lot easier for the hard-pressed beekeeper!***
The bad news is that every Q decided, in her regal wisdom, to lay her eggs in  the stores super.  What to do?  First I judged that each colony was strong and had enough bees to cover the brood in the super. Then I found each Q*** and moved her into the deep brood box, plonked a Q. excluder on top, and put the super with its stores and mini-brood nest on top of that.
Now, unfortunately, that hot spell has become arctic.  It would be a very bad idea to open the hives again to see the result of my ("clever manoeuvre") so now I'll just have to wait until it stops snowing and blowing. Oh dear!!

This is a flowering cherry called, ironically, "Snow in Spring".
The honeybees and bumblebees love it, but its blossom is short-lived.
Honeybees much prefer the gooseberry flowers and soon abandon the cherry when the goosegogs bloom! 

We planted this tree in memory of my sister in March 2009.
When this awful cold weather develops into a 'proper' Spring I'll let you know what has happened in my hives.

Monday, 6 April 2015

North of England Beekeepers Convention Report

Well we really enjoyed our day!  Raffle, Secret Auction, continual flow of refreshments and quite a few stalls of equipment, gifts and books to tempt us.
Susan Cobley from Washington State University gave 2 talks - "Queen Breeding" and "Queen & Drone Rearing". Both were very informative, interesting and thought-provoking.  However, QB and BrB agreed we didn't approve of some of the methods eg. the way that colonies were combined by sort of chucking several colonies into one via a metal chute.  We show more respect for our bees!
Anyway, I made copious notes - too much to report here - but some interesting facts :

Bees have highest mating rate of any insect - Q takes several mating flights; mates with 1-60 drones;
10-60m high; 10,000-25,000 drones from 200-300 colonies; each drone produces 10,000,000 sperm.
Multiple mating increases drone viability and colony fitness.

Simon Croson's talk on Beekeeping Photography was excellent and easy to understand by we amateurs.  He made a good point - that by photographing your active bees you gain a better understanding of why and how bees do what they do.
Blurred photos?  camera shake (brace your elbows on your knees) and being patient, get close to bees and don't automatically use the zoom. Well, that's me sorted out - hopefully!
Finally, red-eyes in drones may be a sign of in-breeding!

If you took your own lunch the day cost £30.  I will certainly go again next year.
QBZzzzzzzzzzzzz  Now it's a gorgeous day. I'm off to the hives with my camera!