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.
Early Saturday morning saw our usual shopping to trip to Harrogate Bee club to restock on bee supplies. On my return I was greeted by my wife saying there’s a swarm in the garden. As I got to the garden the air was full of bees and the buzzing sound was everywhere. They slowly moved from one side of the garden to the other and finally settled in a neighbours tree about 20ft up. My first thoughts were they are from my large Buckfast colony.
As they were 20ft up I would need to cobble together some equipment. This consisted of a landing net with an old tee-shirt inside with the arm and neck holes tied up and a couple of landing net pole taped together. I struggled getting anywhere near the tree in the neighbour’s garden, as it was surrounded by thick brambles and a few smaller trees. I only managed to get a few hundred bees in my makeshift net. I decided to give up there and approach it from my side of the garden. With my ladders and the net I could just reach them from my side. So there I was up a ladder armed with my net, the first try didn’t see many bees in the net. I needed something to shake the branch. Second try now armed with a mop, with the net under the bees I shook the branch with the mop. Result, the net come down with thousands of bees inside. As I poured them into the Nuc box I spotted an unmarked queen. I continued to collect the bees with my net and on the 4th go I spotted another unmarked queen. She was quickly caught and put in a cage, I could use her later to make a split. Bees were fanning at the Nuc entrance and hour later, most of them had settled in the Nuc box.
On inspection of my hives we had no swarm cells, queen cell or missing bees, so this swarm didn’t come from my apiary.
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.
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.