An Early Swarm

After a very cold and wet start to Spring things warmed up enough for me to inspect the bees a couple of times. The first inspection was mainly to put the queen excluders back on and see what was happening. I knew there were bees in both hives but the queen excluders had been removed over winter so I wasn’t sure where the queens would be or how they were doing.

First Inspection

The first hive I looked at was the one by the bedroom window and I was surprised to see quite so many bees in it. However, despite the large number of bees, there was no sign of a queen, there was no brood and no eggs either. After some thought the only thing I can think that had happened was that the colony had swarmed very early. We did have a couple of days of high activity around this hive in early April. My thoughts are that they swarmed then, leaving a virgin queen. This would make sense as they were bringing in pollen earlier in the year but seemed to have stopped doing so recently.

Since swarming, the queen would have been busy mating but had yet to start laying. In the meantime any eggs or brood that were left behind following the swarm would have hatched. So, what we had was plenty of bees and a new queen. I didn’t spot her though and didn’t know where she was. So, I put the queen excluder on above the brood boxes and would have to check on them again soon. They had plenty of stores with three full supers so would hopefully be OK.

The second hive down in the apiary was doing well. Once again there were loads of bees and the hive was full to bursting with them. The two supers had plenty of stores and there were lots of eggs and brood of all stages too. Once again I couldn’t see the queen and couldn’t be sure of where she was so I put the queen excluder on anyway and would have to try to find her next time. If I could inspect the following week then I should at least be able to see if she was above or below the excluder.

Second Inspection

The second inspection was carried out with Anna helping whilst my parents were visiting. I had a quick look in the bedroom hive and was pleased to see that there weren’t any obvious signs of eggs in the supers above the queen excluder. I still wasn’t sure if there was a laying queen in here yet as a swarm in early April probably wasn’t ideal. For a start we lost the old queen and the bees that swarmed with her, but more important was the fact that the new queen might not have had chance to mate that early in the season.

However, when I started looking through the first brood box there were some eggs, by the time I got to the middle frames there were definite signs of laying with quite a few eggs. So, I’m hoping the new queen has successfully mated and is below the queen excluder where we want her and laying eggs as she should. It certainly seems that way.

Once we started looking through the second hive it was clear that the queen was above the queen excluder in this one. Not where we wanted her. The task today was therefore to find her and move her below the excluder. It took a bit of time and partway through I said to Anna “I bet she’s on that frame”, pointing to the one with Morgan’s name on it. Sure enough, once we got to it that’s where she was. It was a relatively easy job to pick her up and place her into a brood box below the queen excluder where she soon disappeared amongst the other frames and bees. I decided to leave it at that and not to disturb them anymore once that task was done.

Next Inspection

Hopefully, I’ll be able to inspect them again this week and have a few tasks / checks to do.

The bedroom hive:

  1. Needs an additional super.
  2. Needs two new brood frames to replace a couple of old ones.
  3. Needs to be checked to make sure the queen is indeed laying well and that the brood is developing.

The Apiary Hive needs:

  1. A check to make sure the queen is now below the queen excluder and laying there.
  2. Might need an additional super.
  3. Might need to be artificially swarmed.

Beekeeping season is well and truly upon us and despite losing a swarm in early April things seem to be going OK. Now to try to make increase and prevent too much swarming whilst also getting a decent honey harvest.

1 Response

  1. Friday, May 31st, 2024

    […] thought I was doing quite well with the bees this year. There was an early swarm or possibly a supersedure in the hive by the bedroom at the beginning of April. This was actually a […]

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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.