At the Apiary
Penny Robertson summarises Saturday sessions at the Apiary:
Apiary 8 June
Once again there was lots going on at the Apiary today. We had a good number of attendees and split into three groups to go through the bees.
Linda made sure some of our newer members know how to get the smokers going and showed them queen cups and queen cells. She made sure all in her group could see eggs so they can tell there's still a laying queen in attendance in a hive or not. She also demonstrated wing clipping on drones and gave people the chance to have a go so they can practise before starting on a queen!
We were thrilled to discover that a colony we thought was queenless now has a newly-mated laying queen. It is about a month since we left a sealed queen cell in there so it just shows that you need to be patient.
Queen cells are starting to appear in a couple of other hives. We broke some down and left a good queen cell in each hive. Will check again next week to make sure the bees haven't built any more. Peter took one of the queen cells to put into a tiny mating hive and spent a while explaining how they work and what to do once we have a new laying queen.
Our first Junior Member went through a nuc on his own. He was calm and careful and has the makings of an excellent beekeeper. We will check this nuc again in a couple of weeks to make sure the new queen is mated and laying.
Brian, John and Aidan worked in the shed making up new frames to replace some manky old ones and a few people came shopping to buy wax and other bits.
All in all it was a good session despite the wind and lack of sun.
Apiary 20 April
Saturday 20th was a good warm beautiful day to open the bees and we took the chance to go through them in detail.
Food stores are still an issue for most of the colonies though some pollen is coming in now. A couple of the hives are finishing off their winter candy and one was fed thin (1:1) sugar syrup to give it a boost. A few of the hives still have honey stores so we gave those frames a scrape and moved them nearer to the brood to encourage the bees to eat it.
One hive had a queen cell with a larva in already and one looks as though the queen has superseded recently. Will be interesting to see if there are enough drones around for her to get mated successfully.
Two hives were treated with Nozevit as they recently tested positive for Nosema. The bees were sprayed with sugar syrup containing the treatment and we will repeat that four times in all. We’ll keep our fingers crossed to see if they pick up.
Apiary 27 April
Today we welcomed some new members to the apiary for the first time and Laurie went through the bees with them.
The colonies are now beginning to build up, some more quickly than others, and one or two are starting to make queen cups. We’ll need to look carefully next week to see if there are eggs and royal jelly in any, as this will signal the beginning of the swarming season. We saw one or two drones, and some drone brood in a couple of the hives, but there are not many around yet. Drone brood takes 24 days to hatch so any new queens will have a hard time finding drones to mate with for about the next month.
In our quest to offer as many educational opportunities as we can, we now have several different hive types at the apiary. We’ve had standard Nationals for years but now as well there’s a Commercial which already has bees in, a Beehaus that has been set up as a bait hive and yesterday we put a 14x12 brood box with frames of foundation above the strongest colony (hive 6). We put a feeder of sugar syrup on the hive and the bees will use this to build new wax and the queen and colony will eventually move up into the new box. This is called a ‘Bailey Comb Change’ and we will hope to see a couple of newly drawn frames next week.
Lastly, we have almost finished treating the two hives that tested positive for Nosema. We have been spraying them with Nozevit in sugar syrup, which has to be done four times a few days apart. We will do one more treatment during the week and then hope to see the colonies building up as normal.
Apiary 18 May
Lots going on with the bees this week and we were pleased to see plenty of attendees new and old. And we now have some new shelving in the shed, courtesy of Brian and Linda.
Most of the hives are doing well with laying queens and the honey flow just starting. A couple are not doing so well.
We put a new brood box above a strong colony a couple of weeks ago and the bees have moved up into it and started to draw new foundation on the frames. The queen has begun to lay in there so we put the queen excluder on to keep her in there and put the old brood box on the top for the last brood to hatch before we take it away. This is called the Bailey comb change method. Good link here about how to do it http://www.bbka.org.uk/local/ludlow/bm~doc/fera-faq5-replacingoldbroodcomb.pdf .
Another hive has a newly hatched queen cell so we will wait for a week or two and hope she is successfully mated.
The slow hives are probably not worth struggling with. We have already united one of them with a stronger colony and there’s another where the queen seems to be failing so we will make a decision about it next week. Seems sad but best to cull the weak queens and deal with the bees rather than leave them all to waste away.
Apiary Opening 7 April 2012
The weather warmed up enough on Saturday for us to have a quick look at the bees. Lots of new people came, some who know a bit about bees and some complete beginners. We split into two groups so everyone could get to at least see the bees and ask questions.
We moved the winter supers from underneath the brood boxes to above them, and put the queen excluders in between. As it has been such a warm spring already several of the super frames and been laid in so we checked to make sure the queens were in the brood boxes before putting the hives back together.
All the colonies had come through the winter but one of them had a drone laying queen so was not viable. We united these bees with another hive as we did not have a spare queen to introduce.
We checked that all the colonies had plenty of stores to see them through the next week and topped up with candy where they seemed light.
Over the next few weeks we will put the bees into the new hives we have made up and make sure they are all healthy and not planning to swarm.
We need to make up some new frames next week.
If you want to order your own protective bee suit get in touch with Brian Fisher to find out if any discounts are available to members.
14 April 2012
On Saturday we checked the bees very quickly as it was cold.
The most striking thing we found was several hives with virtually no stores at all so we fed them sugar syrup.
One hive had the beginnings of queen cells. This was a late swarm last year – we found them in a pile of stored supers in September! The old queen is still laying well but the workers have decided that she needs to be replaced. We left one queen cell with royal jelly and a larva in and will see what’s going on next week.
We made up enough frames for a couple of brood boxes. Still plenty more to do.
May 5 2012
The weather was so cold we didn’t open the hives, but replenished sugar syrup/candy as needed. Our new system of leader + helper seems to work well. Plus we had extra willing helpers among the regular member-visitors. Several new faces this week – welcome all! A pity the weather was too bad for you to see more. Photos (click 'Apiary Photos' above left)) show us smiling through our veils, though. (Anji Hart)
May 19 2012
Well, it was all happening at the apiary yesterday.
We arrived to find a swarm hanging in one of the bushes. We'd had a nice, warm sunny morning, so perfect swarming weather!
We hived them into a little nucleus box and will have a look next week. Will be interesting to see if there's a laying queen in there as the apiary queens are clipped so not sure how one could have got from a hive to a tree. Will let you know next week! Click on the left above for the story in pictures...
Otherwise, we started to put the bees into the new brood boxes we bought with our Waitrose money. We found the queens in each hive first and put them safely in a queen cage while we transferred the frames of brood and food from the old box to the new.
We had a quick look in the nucleus boxes we have made up with artificial swarms. One of them is doing really well and was put into a full-sized (new) brood box but the other two are slower. They are all numbered so we know which hive they come from. We need to make up more brood frames next week as we have already used up all the ones we made earlier in the season!
June 9 2012
Despite the slow start to the 2012 beekeeping season we have managed to get 150lbs of honey off the bees at the apiary. This seems pretty good considering we have had some swarms and casts coming off the hives and a few of them haven’t got back to full strength yet. This honey will be stored until we need to bottle it for sale at the shows we attend. We also ‘pay’ with honey for renting the apiary field area.
Two or three weeks ago a swarm, or cast, decided to go and live in the pile of stored supers by the shed. Despite our attempts to shake it into a brood box it is determined not to settle there. We think it might be queenless but will have another look next week and see what they are up to again.
On Saturday 2 June we had an amazing session where several queen cells hatched out as we watched. We even heard some of the new virgin queens piping to each other. We popped virgins into a couple of the nucs we thought were queenless so will see in a couple of weeks if they have been accepted and are mated and laying.
We've not kept up this 'diary' but we ended a successful year this weekend (October 6). We have fed the bees with Ambrosia syrup; we have put the supers under the brood boxes where possible to give extra insulation (varroa floors removed) and we have insulated the roofs and wrapped wire netting round the hives to fox the green woodpeckers. We noticed that, late as it is, the bees were still foraging and still in some cases bringing in pollen. A strange year!