Spring seem to have started and the bees are out and about today, the temperature is a balmy 12c and the sun is shining. Had a quick inspection last week and gave them all a slab of fondant. We have lost 2 small colonies over winter taking us down to 16 hives, I really should have combined them together as they both swarmed late in the season. Lesson learnt for this year.
I was sorting thought my bee equipment in readiness for the new season and I seen to have a nice collection of wax, old comb, capping etc. I dug out my old melting pot and the electric hob and have a melting session. looks and smell disgusting but the end produce after just one filtering looks great. I need to filter it a few time before I can use it.
June has begun and things have started getting busy at The Bee Yard. We’ve had a few hot days and the bees are loving it, lets hope this keeps up. Saturday night saw our first swarm collection of the season, from a bee keeper just over the boarder in Lancashire. This was already boxes up and ready to go, the easiest swarm collection ever, cheers Bruce. Our 2nd swarm came on Monday lunchtime, a nice size swarm and just 6ft up in a bush. Shook most of them in to a poly nuc and left the box on the grass for an hour while I had a cup of tea. On my return all the bees were in the box, so I think I must have got the queen in the box on the first shake.
We have had European & American Foul Brood in the area over the last few weeks, EFB was about 3 miles away, but more worrying was the AFB a 1 mile from one of our apiaries. I had a visit from the bee inspector on Monday, he was here for 2 hours. Good news, we got the all clear at 2 of our apiaries sites. The other apiaries are not in the affected areas.
I recently acquired a new Top Bar hive to play with, this is a home made design from a guy off the net, its a Top Bar Warre. Not sure if it will work but it’ll be fun to try, i’ll keep you all posted on how this goes.
15°C in the sun here today, all the bees were out in force. I took advantage of the warm day and had a look in most of the hives. A couple of hives had brood on 2 frames, some just small patches of brood. There were 2 that were very short of stores and no brood. I’ve a few spare frames with honey and pollen from the 2 hives I lost over winter. I’ve moved some of these frames into the struggling colonies, I also put more fondant on all the hives for when the weather changes.
Lots were out and about bringing in yellow pollen.
As you will be aware we have had a drop of rain up here in Yorkshire over the last couple of months and one or two floods. I left the bees alone as the damp weather and inspections don’t make for happy bees. We had a break in the weather last week so I had a quick look under the crown board to see how they are doing and they are all still alive. The air temperature is very mild for the time of year, we’ve only had a couple of frosts. On the drier days we’ve seen the bees flying and bringing dark grey pollen. The next nice day will see me adding a slab of fondant on each hive to keep them going. There is a couple of colonies that is looking small so might need to keep and eye on them and maybe combine them early in spring.
Our last inspection day showed us how easy it is to loose your bees to starvation. On the inspection the week before there were eggs, larva and stores, everything was fine. After a week they had nothing. There were no stores, no larva and there was lots of uncapped brood. One hive was so bad it had 4-5 thousand dead in the hive.
I made up gallons of 1:1 sugar water and fed all my hives with rapid feeders on the crown boards. I topped them up though out the week and now there all looking great. The combs are full of syrup and the queens are laying eggs like crazy.
Had our weekly inspection of the hives today and most of the new swarms are now laying. I got a nice picture of the eggs inside the comb. They look like a grain of rice in the bottom of each cell. I did find a queen-less hive so we took a frame of eggs from a full colony and put it in the queen-less one, they should make there own queen and may be a few spare. I’ve also had another go at grafting, but im not that hopeful. Ill have a peek in 3 days and let you know.
On Thursday 11th there was a swarm frenzy around Keighley. I had 4 phone calls regarding swarms in the area. I managed to get to one in Silsden. When I got there it looked like a nice little swarm on a rock and a near by rose bush. I put down a white sheet with the nuc box on top and gave them a little smoke to push them in the right direction. They obliged and started walking towards the nuc. Some of them wanted to climb up the rock, so I placed a little Skep on the top of this. After 45mins they were walking into the nuc and a few were fanning, summoning the rest of the colony. I had a quick look under the Skep which was fulling up nicely. Then I noticed a little red dot running around, I had found the queen. The half full Skep of bees were quickly move into the nuc box along with the queen. With the queen in the box the bees were now moving at a steady pace. There were more bees than I initially thought, so I decided to transfer them all into a full size hive. After another hour most of the bee were in the hive, so I closed it up and called it a day. I have a quick look at them yesterday, they are covering 8 frames in the hive and they seem to be settling into their new home nicely.
Got a call this morning asking if I could collect a swarm from Queensbury, Bradford. When I got there they were all over the floor, someone had tried to disperse them by moving the pallet around. Luckily half of them landed on a large piece of cardboard, this was folded up and the bees poured into the Nuc. A tennis ball sized clump was hanging from one of the slats, this was collected and put in the Nuc as well. Within about 15mins some bees were fanning near the Nuc, they then started to walk towards the entrance hole. After about an hour and a few puffs of smoke most of the bees had walked inside. I gave it another 1/2 hour and decided most of the were inside, so I closed up and brought them home, we only lost a few stragglers.
When we had our queen-less hive back in April, I took out a nuc of bee and gave them a Buckfast queen. The colony has been growing at a steady rate, so after a few weeks in the nuc box we moved them into the WBC we bought back in February. I got a nice picture of the new queen while doing the inspection day.