Ups and Downs of Beekeeping
Those of you who follow our beekeeping exploits here on the edge of where beekeeping is a sensible pursuit will know that things are never easy. Conditions aren’t ideal for bees in our back garden simply due to the strong winds and the lack of available forage so we have decided to move most of our bees to an out apiary a little further inland where conditions should be better. We are however still keeping one colony in our garden just because we like having them here.
Typically though this year, the colony at the bottom of the garden seems to be doing really well whereas those in the out apiary are struggling. The bees at the bottom of the garden haven;t swarmed yet this year, the queen is laying well, there’s plenty of brood, absolutely loads of bees and better still, the first super is pretty much completely full and they are beginning to cap the homey, the second super is more than half full and I’ve even put an optimistic third super on which they have started to store honey in as well. Amazing, we’ve never had that many supers on a hive here before and it’s great to see them so busy and doing so well.
The bees in our out apiary aren’t doing quite so well. Only one colony made it through the winter and we split them earlier in the year. The original colony was then struggling with a varroa infestation so we treated them with MAQ Strips. The split and varroa treatment probably set them back a bit so it is now quite a small colony without much in the way of stores. The other half of the split looked to be doing OK, a new queen was raised and she started laying well, but they she started laying nothing but drones. Yep, another drone laying queen. For some reason we just don’t seem to be able to get our queens mated properly.
I had no choice but to destroy the queen and put a frame of eggs from the original half of the split in with them so that they could raise a new queen. Later that day we then had the offer of a sealed queen cell from a friend within the Beekeeping Association, so I collected that and put the sealed queen cell into the hive as well. Hopefully that will save a couple of weeks in the process of raising a new queen which may just give her time to get out and mate so that they can build up in numbers before the winter. Needless to say we won’t be getting any honey from the out apiary this year.