Making Increase

I 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 fairly good thing as the hive re-queened and the queen was laying last time I looked. All good there as a new queen that early in the season should give them plenty of time to re-build and hopefully they wouldn’t be thinking of swarming while they do. We might even get some honey from them come the end of the year. I’ve checked on them today and all looks good.

The other hive looked good a couple of weeks ago as well, so I decided that it was time to split them so that I could hopefully pre-empt any swarming and possibly ‘make increase’ at the same time. Splitting them in this fashion results in two colonies from one, one with the old queen and one that creates a new queen. It is also supposed to trick the bees into thinking they have swarmed and thereforsupresses the urge for them to do so. That’s the theory anyway and all seemed to be going well.

I took a look at them last week and the colony with the original queen was doing well, there were plenty of flying bees and all looked good. The other half of the colony was doing what it should too. They had created some queen cells. I’d knocked all bar one of these down and I was now leaving them to allow the queen to hatch, mate and hopefully start laying over the next few weeks.

Swarming Regardless

Of course, the bees had other ideas. The weather has been terrible this week and I’ve been suffering with a nasty bout of Covid so I hadn’t checked on them for almost a week. Today was the first day with some sunshine so I planned on looking at them today or tomorrow. My hand was forced somewhat when the half with the original queen decided to swarm today!

I saw them go and saw where they settled. So, I’ve now hatched a little plan to try to catch the swarm. They of course settled on a fairly inaccessible fence post at the bottom of the garden. I’ve had to construct a makeshift bridge to get to them and to support a nuc box above them so that hopefully they’ll find their way into it.

Time will tell if the bees will head into the Nuc Box. And even if they do, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay there. Usually they go into the box, hang about for a day or two and then disappear when I’m not looking!

I have checked the hive that the swarm came from and have left them with just a single queen cell. If that hatches and successfully re-queens then I’ll keep the newer queen and will probably cull the old queen that left with the swarm. and re-unite these two parts of the colony. Neither half is huge at the moment as it had already been split once. The swarm that I’ve caught is really just an insurance policy and it’s always nice to try to catch them.

Making Increase

Of course, in the very unlikely case that the swarm stays in the nuc box. the queen cell hatches and mates and both halves look good then I might end up keeping both. That is unlikely and it’ll probably be better to re-unite them later in the year anyway but getting 3 colonies from one could be possible!

Let’s just hope that’s it for the swarming for the year as I’m running out of space and equipment to house any more colonies. The recent bout of Covid means I’ve run out of energy for such malarkey too!

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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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