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.