The Trouble with Bees

The trouble with bees is that you just never know quite what to expect!

Our last inspection was pretty good, all four colonies in all four hives were looking up with queens, eggs and larvae in all of them, no signs of swarming and they were beginning to draw out empty frames and start building up some stores.

Our optimism wasn’t to last long though. I did an inspection today and all wasn’t quite so rosy.

Pendam – Nuc Box

I took a look in here first, but where were all the bees? Last time it was doing quite well with a brand new queen, plenty of eggs and all frames had been drawn out. Today there were very few bees, no sign of the queen, no eggs and 3 queen cells. Not a great start to the days inspections. I can only surmise that they must have swarmed from the nuc box since we last looked and we’ve now lost our new queen. There’s very little we can do about it now though. I’m going to leave the queen cells and see if the colony can re-queen, but with so few bees and not much time left I think this colony is a lost cause. We shall reunite what bees are left in a few weeks with one of the stronger colonies in the apiary.

Syfydrrin – Our new hive

Next up was Syfyddrin, our new hive that houses a caught swarm from Clettwr. It doesn’t look as though these have been up to much since we last looked either. I did see Ffion, the queen, and there were eggs, and larvae, but there was very little in the way of stores. In fact I’d go as far as saying there was nothing in the way of stores so it looks as though we’ll be mixing lots of sugar syrup today and frantically feeding them tonight.

This apiary inspection really isn’t going too well.

Clettwr

This is one of our original hives that now contains a colony that has re-queened following swarming earlier in the year. I didn’t see the queen and as yet we haven’t seen her at all, but there were plenty of eggs and larvae in all stages so we can only assume that she is in there somewhere. The bees have also started drawing out a couple of frames in the super, although they’ve yet to store anything in them. Again, there wasn’t much in the way of stores in this hive either so we’ll be feeding them tonight as well . And there was me thinking that there was plenty of flowers for them to forage on at the moment, clearly there is very little.

Leri

After the slow start with the previous three hives I wasn’t expecting to see much happening here either, but I was presently surprised to see that they had not only drawn out 6 frames in the Super, but had filled three of them with delicious looking honey. They have been busy! I didn’t disturb them too much by going through the brood box completely so didn’t see the queen but the brood box was looking good. The outside frames were heavy with stores, the inner frames were full of eggs, and larvae and the laying pattern and overall pattern of stores and brood on each frame was perfect.

In fact they are doing so well that I’m tempted to put on another super to keep them busy and give them plenty of room for more stores should they need it.

So, the question today is why should this hive be doing so well when the others have completely run out of stores? COuld the bees in this colony bee robbing from the others? That’s the trouble with bees, not only do they not do what you expect them to, but even when you know what they’re up to it’s difficult to work out why or how. I’m keen to leave them to it most of the time as they know what they’re doing better than we do, but it would be nice to know what was going on so that I could at least help out here and there.

I guess all of this will come with time and experience, but for now they remain fairly unpredictable to me.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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