Beekeeping Weather – All Looks Good
With day time temperatures soaring to the 20’s it seems as though beekeeping season is upon us once again. The bees have been getting busier and busier and they were in full flight at the weekend. There still aren’t huge number of flowers out for them to forage on, especially here, but there should be plenty of willow in the dunes, the marsh marigolds and bluebells are just beginning to flower in the garden and there must be other things available such as celandine nearby as the bees seem to be returning with plenty of pollen.
Elsewhere the fruit trees are in blossom, privet, hawthorn and other hedgerow plants are flowering and things are looking up for the bees.
We managed out first proper inspections of our hives this year over the weekend. We started with the colony in our new out apiary. This is a relatively small colony that we created from a swarm at the end of last year and that we took into winter with fairly low expectations. We were therefore pleased to see that they were pretty active and that the bees returning to the hive were doing so packed full with their little cargoes of pollen. The new out apiary is of course in a much better location than the apiary at the bottom of the garden so hopefully this colony is now getting the boost it needs.
We opened up the hive that has been over-wintered on a brood and a half, so took a look through the frames of the super. There are still a few undrawn frames in this, but there was a good supply of stores, probably stored from the spring feed of sugar syrup we gave them. We then took a look through the brood box where we could once again see plenty of stores in the form of honey and pollen. We also saw eggs, larvae at all stages of development, sealed brood and drone brood. We also spotted the queen and were therefore able to add the queen excluder above the brood box, so taking them off a brood and a half.
Ffion, the queen in this colony is one of our original queens, so we might think about replacing her later in the year. She’s been a good queen though and her colony has always been quite docile, so it would be good to rear another queen from her. We put the hive back together, added an extra super so that the bees have plenty of room to expand their colony and left them to it.
We then inspected the two hives at the bottom of our garden. Once again, all looked well. We saw the queen in both of them so were able to take them off the brood and a half configuration. Both hives also had brood and stores and were looking good. We also took the floors off the hives and gave them a good clean, and opened up the entrance blocks.
The first of the hives (Clettwr) houses what is currently the largest colony and although they are looking good, we have been having problems with large clusters of bees congregating under the floor. I brushed them off last week and put a varroa board on to stop them congregating there which worked for a few days, but come inspection time they were there again. We therefore shook them back into the hive and replaced the floor whilst doing our inspection at the weekend, but within a few hours of doing so, there was another large cluster of them under the floor. I’m not sure what the attraction is for them there, but once again I’ve added the varroa board to hopefully prevent them from clustering under the floor.
Part of me thinks that the small winter entrance was part of the problem. We hadn’t opened it up until the weekend but the sudden increase in temperature and therefore sudden increase in flying activity meant that things were getting a little congested at the entrance. Bees that couldn’t get in found themselves under the hive and maybe thought they were inside so that’s where they stayed. Whatever it is, they seem to want to be there and although part of me thinks I should leave them to it as they probably know better than me, whilst they are there they won’t really be contributing to the colony and when the temperatures drop at night they will probably become chilled, so I’d prefer it if they went inside the hive. I suppose they have to keep us on our toes somehow.