Baptism of fire for a new beekeeper

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Gilberdyke John

Queen Bee
May 5, 2013
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HU15 East Yorkshire
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Our village Facebook group had a post calling for help with some bees swarming. Turned out to be a new keeper who had completed a beginners course last year in another county then started with a WBC hive late last summer which came through the winter satisfactorily. Unfortunately she lives smack in the middle of multiple fields (oceans) of OSR and the bees rapidly switched into swarm mode following the hive becoming nectar blocked. The new keeper error of knocking down queen cells obviously didn't help the situation. These errors saw a swarm emanate which was caught and placed in a nuc. This was followed by another swarm which she caught and placed in another nuc, thus no more equipment available. Today saw yet another swarm and I took a run down to see what was going on, armed with a spare polynuc. On arrival I saw a pretty big cluster embedded both sides of a mesh fence. Also a small cluster of bees on the floor near the WBC. This turned out to be covering a small dead virgin queen (which has been saved for a suitable fence post later)
Turning our attention to the swarm and working from both sides of the mesh we got most of the bees into the polynuc and spotted not one but two queens mixed in amongst them. These were unwilling to be caught and rapidly vanished into the melee. They're all currently in the nuc so the final outcome lies in the balance and maybe a duel to determine the winner. In the hope of avoiding further swarms the nuc entrance disk is set to queen retaining slot position for 24 hours and most of the outside bees have gone in or are sitting by the entrance slots. Checking the WBC no eggs or young larvae present but strangely a fat queen was sitting on a raised bed in front of the hive. Placing her on the landing board she was welcomed inside by the guard bees.
Tomorrow is planned for a trip to Abelo for some spares. (I've got spare foundation and a couple of brood boxes just in case but no more frames so couldn't help much with kit beyond the polynuc.)
This could be an interesting month or two :)
All I can say, John, is bravo for trying to save the situation for her.
After collecting the various swarms and omitting the minutae of the next few days my new friend had her original hive, two 5 frame wooden nucs, my 6 frame polynuc and two of my 14x12 polyhives occupied with bees. She bought a new Thorne's bees on a budget WBC to transfer the polynuc colony into about ten days later. She has found a home for the wooden nuc bees and given me the 14x12 polyhives back with the colonies inside.
Inspecting these yesterday both are well drawn out and laid up with eggs and bias. Unfortunately one colony has built some crazy double panels of comb between two of the frames and that was heavily occupied with capped brood. Biting the bullet I've wielded my hive tool and excised that carefully then shaken it clear of bees to give the comb to the chickens. The adjacent foundation was somewhat buckled which no doubt set off the erratic building so I've straightened it best I could and left them to get on with it. If the colonies continue to thrive I've won some nice bees and she has two colonies in WBC's plus a nuc 🤞
Well done John ... just one calamity after another ... the next problem will be OSR honey set rock hard in the frames ! Good luck ...
Well done John ... just one calamity after another ... the next problem will be OSR honey set rock hard in the frames ! Good luck ...
She has successfully extracted honey from some of her honey frames using crush and strain 🙂. I've offered the use of my (new to me) lyson tangential after my session this week. That'll save extractor washing out losses.

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