Apiary Manipulations

After a nice night away with Anna I decided to take a quick look at the bees. It had only been 5 days since I’d last inspected them but it’s prime swarm season so it’s good to keep an eye on them. 

Leri Hive

The first hive, Leri, was all looking good. They have a single super at the moment which is half full of honey. They haven’t started to cap the frames yet though. 

I spotted the Queen straight away. She was on the second frame I looked at so the rest of the inspection was a quick one. They are on a brood and a half but there’s nothing going on in the lower box so I only looked through the 11 frames in the upper box. All looked good, all frames are being used and most are packed full of brood, pollen and some honey. There were plenty of eggs, larvae at all stages and quite a few drone cells too. With everything looking good I closed them up and left them to it.

Clettwr Hive

Our second (of two at the time) hives is Clettwr. This one also had a single super that was half full of honey but not capped. It’s on a double brood box and the top box is packed full. It’s a busy hive but the lower box is barely used. There’s always lots of bees in the lower box but no brood or stores. After looking at a few frames I started to see the beginnings of queen cells. Sure enough, as I looked through there were a few more obvious ones. What wasn’t obvious was the Queen. Typical, the last few times I’d inspected the hive I’d seen her easily. Today, when I could really do with finding her, she was nowhere to be seen. I looked through the whole hive, including the lower box but I couldn’t see her. Two of the frames in the top box had foundation that wasn’t properly wired in so I decided to swap these with fresh frames from the lower box.

After doing this I had a second look through the entire top box looking for the Queen. Still no luck. I closed it up and went in to Anna to ask her to look up how to do a split if you can’t find the Queen. I can never quite remember the various intricacies!

While Anna did that I decided to look through the hive one more time – third time lucky!! Finally, on the last frame of the box and the third time of looking I spotted her. I checked her frame to make sure there were no Queen cells on it and moved it to a third (empty) hive that was waiting nearby. This box containing the Queen and the frame she was on has now been moved back to where she was in the first place. It’s in the same location and has the same Queen in it so I’m still calling it Clettwr. 

Although this hive now has just a single frame of bees, the flying bees should return to it and bolster the numbers. I did also give it a couple of frames of honey too. Hopefully this will encourage them to stay put – somehow I doubt it!

Dyfi Hive

The remainder of the bees from Clettwr were then moved to a new location in a hive now called Dyfi. It has the double brood box of Clettwr with all of the brood, all of the nurse bees and all of the Queen cells. It also has the original super. At the moment it is obviously queenless.

I should really have destroyed most of the queen cells, but many of them were barely formed. Instead I shall take a look in a few days time and will destroy all but one of them. Doing so always feels wrong to me but it should prevent cast swarms ina few weeks time. Hopefully a new Queen will emerge from the Queen cell that I leave. Hopefully she’ll head out and mate and hopefully we’ll have a new colony with a fresh new 2022 Queen. 

That’s lots of ‘hopefully’s’ especially as the bees rarely do what we want them to. We’ll just have to wait and see. Usually they still swarm despite the artificial swarming manipulations that we do. They then swarm a few more times each year as well. Let’s hope that’s not the case this year. 

I imagine the bees in Leri hive will swarm too. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them. I might just let them do so as I’m not sure if we have the space or equipment for a fourth colony in the apiary.

 

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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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