Hive preparation Inspection Spring

Spring Inspection at Member’s Apiary

Mowing the lawn yesterday I couldn’t fail to note the masses of bees leaving and entering my no.1 Commercial hive, so I decided on making an immediate spring inspection:-

My bee inspector tutor once told me to always start with the bottom box. So, smoking at the entrance, not the top, I inspected the underneath super which contained frames of worker brood of all ages and significant drone brood. How very interesting I thought!

This brood-super was placed on a clean floor as part of my general spring maintenance.

I then checked out the heavy commercial brood box which I replaced back on top of the brood/super. Unsurprisingly, it was filled with 9 frames of brood of all ages including eggs.

I saw the queen without looking for her. It was as if she wanted to tell me how clever she had been to produce so much brood and hatched bees since January! I think it was the article in Bee Craft that mentioned that it was much easier to find the queen in the spring.

I took a photo of one of the frames. Please note a good size queen cell. There was only one.

I was happy at the time that this was a swarm cell and not a supercedure cell. I am sure many of you would think otherwise because it is located on the comb. If it was a supersedure cell, this colony is so large it would likely swarm just the same. Either way there are insufficient drones for the hatching virgin to mate so she would be doomed. I carefully removed the queen cell and placed in a tub, intending to locate to an apidea mating box. This evening, I thought more about this queen cell. The bees on the frame were not nursing as they should. I opened it and found mainly an empty case and so it appeared unviable. The bees knew that.

Lesson learned, this colony now has a queen excluder and a super of 2 drawn out frames and 9 undrawn out to hopefully provide space and give these bees some work to do!

I spent the afternoon looking through the other four commercial colonies where I was able to take the bottom super with barren frames and place above a cleaned queen excluder. I shall now stop feeding. I checked out two busy national colonies. In all cases there was brood in the bottom super and so I have retained in the configuration of a “Half Plus One” and added a new super above a queen excluder. It is very likely that as the season progresses these colonies will be modified to double national brood.

Conclusion: The new Beekeeping Season has begun

I write this as a suggestion that it is time to check out colonies. Perhaps carry out spring maintenance such as a clean floor. I keep my colonies all year in the ventilated configuration (AKA cold way). If not in this configuration, it is time to change for good summer ventilation. I suggest cleaning the yellow (or white) correx under floor sheet and check for varroa drop. There are spring treatments advertised in Thorne’s brochure, usually advisable to first remove honey supers. Much to think about. Any challenges or questions please do not hesitate to email.

Secretary, WHBKA

Hive preparation Mites Winter

Winter Preparations

Taking advantage of warm weather I spent yesterday afternoon at the end of my garden and achieved the following:

  1. Moved heavy super under brood boxes as preparation for winter. (National, Commercial and Langstroth)

I moved a full super under the brood box in preparation for over wintering, obviously with no queen excluder between boxes.

In some cases I am hoping this will encourage the bees to place more stores in the brood box so that stores will be close to the brood cluster.

I also took on this task while I could still lift the boxes!

In the case of half -filled supers, I left these above the queen excluder for the bees to fill up while ivy is still  in flower. I shall move underneath later.

An experienced beekeeper can quote more than four reasons for placing a full super box under the brood. including:

  • The bees will eat from the super box underneath which will be completely emptied by spring;
  • The queen will lay eggs for brood in the warmest uppermost  box of the hive.  The larger brood box is intended for that purpose and so avoiding a break in the two boxes through the brood nest.
  • It is easier to take out Apivar strips which for many of us will be mid-November after the required 8 weeks.
  • It is  easy to feed candy above the brood frames in the spring. I have ordered  Fondabee for this winter.
  • The underneath super is believed to dissuade mice.
  • This system is used by many beekeeping associations and often referred to by eminent lecturers.
  1. I washed the yellow correx trays and replaced under the open mesh floor to limit cold draught making it is easier for the colony to maintain the required hive temperature as the weather becomes colder.

It is also useful to observe Varroa drop generated by the Apivar strips.  A white correx board is now available.

All my wood hives will be maintained in the ventilated orientation, otherwise miss-named the “cold way”. Many years ago I learned that the less ventilated, the so called “warm way” encourages green mould and chalk brood on the rear frames.

I understand that Polystyrene hives may be treated differently.

  1. I will later use insulation quilts of chip foam under the roof
  1. If I use Mouse Guards, these will go on with first white frost, around mid-November, so that bees do not lose their precious pollen as they scramble through the holes.

I use a Snowley mouse guard magnet, retail price £4.60 from suppliers. Completely indispensable for inserting drawing pins!!

  1. Finally the good news is that there seem to be less wasps. However there is a tendency for bees from strong hives to engage in robbing weaker ones. One of my very small nucleus colonies on two frames had an entrance of 1 cm.
  2. I recommend checking out the David Cushman web site, but remember the text is written for nation wide readership and not specifically Rickmansworth.

As always, I hope helpful especially for new beekeepers. I have tried to include full logical reasons.

Secretary, WHBKA