cold and wet?

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Alleree 

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Is it too cold to inspect my colony? I haven't done a full inspection yet due to the weather but have noticed i have drones coming out so need to check for swarm preparation. Temp. 10C cool breeze.
 

gavin 

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Yes, I like it to be around 15C before doing an invasive search in the brood box. If it is sheltered and the sun is on them, might sometimes pull a side frame quickly at 10C just to check the stores if I need to.
 

Alleree 

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That's what I thought but they were terrible swarmers last year (my first) and I was hoping to keep ahead of them. I know I have normal brood too, as the little hairy ones come out for 'baby bee playtime' if the sun is out in the afternoon. I have a new brood box ready for AS and so don't want to miss them.
 

gavin 

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Sometimes you'll get a warm 30 min or so when the sun comes out and any breeze drops. Work quickly if it is cool.
 

Alleree 

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Aaaaaargh!!!!
Went in quickly to check stores - ok BUT!
Brood but few eggs; loads of drones and dozens of queen cells - sealed and unsealed - and no sign of the queen.
It could only be a quick look as the sun was shining but dark clouds are gathering again but I'm faced with the problem I had last year - I can't find the queen to do AS.
That means they're probably going to swarm and soon!
Aaaaargh!
 

Polyanwood 

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They have probably swarmed already if there are sealed queen cells, but on the assumption they haven't and you still can't find the queen, it is better to try to reduce the swarming instinct. The principle is that you need to separate flying bees, queen and brood and that if you do this , this slows them down.

If you can't find the queen I think it is still better to try to separate the flying bees from the brood, as that will cool their heels.

So...on the original site leave 1 or 2 open queen cells and a frame of stores. Fill up the rest of the box with drawn comb. Put some feed on this box if the weather forecast is bad and there is nothing in the supers.


In the other box on the new site a metre or so away, reduce the queen cells in that box to one open cell only. The queen is probably in this box, but you aren't sure.
The flying bees will go back to the original site.
After 3 days go look in the boxes and you will know where the queen is because the eggs are there. You should destroy the queen cell in this queenright box if the bees have not done so already. You should get rid of any extra queen cells they have made in either box.

I was given good advice when I was a beginner beekeepr about finding queens, but the most useful was, 'You have to believe you can find her, otherwise you never will!'
 

itma 

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Is it too cold to inspect my colony? I haven't done a full inspection yet due to the weather ...
Surely, even in Lincolnshire, there has been plenty warm weather since Christmas when one or more inspections could have been made?

One lesson to be learned is that bees do not go by a calender.
Particularly with our modern-day erratic climate, dogmatic advice like "don't open the hive until the end of March" is much too rigid.
We have to be as adaptable as the bees!
 

enrico 

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Polyanwood, succinctly and beautifully put.......well done, oh....and I agree!
 

Dishmop 

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I did manage to split my observation hive yesterday. I waited until the sun got to where I was going to be working. Luckily the temp got up to about 14 or 15 I think, judging by the cheap thermometer on my back door. Today..... well...turn the thermostat up a degree and watch the telly.
 

Alleree 

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Thankyou Polyanwood - that's a sort of reverse AS which I will try to do tomorrow as it promises to be a better day. I'm pretty sure they haven't gone yet - they are in my garden close to the house and I'm sure I wouldn't have missed that! Today we have frequent heavy and thundery showers with hail and a balmy high of 11 in the sun and 9 when it rains!
And Yes Itma I did have a quick look during the warm weather to check for stores but that was over 3 weeks ago and the advice given to me as a novice was to leave them until at least 15C to avoid chilling the brood!
 

itma 

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... the advice given to me as a novice was to leave them until at least 15C to avoid chilling the brood!
I'm sure it was.
However, one has to think about the possible downsides of actions and inactions.
Where the downside is a swarm or a colony starving, the risk of a bit of chilled or chalk brood seems trivial in comparison.
Its a matter of balancing the risks, rather than blindly following arbitrary rules.
The brood has to be maintained above 30C, so the difference between exposing it to 15C and 12C is just a matter of degree (ouch! :))
 

Alleree 

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Thank you. I see what you mean, but this is my first April as a beekeeper and the year hasn't been a normal one so far! Reading books and going on courses doesn't really prepare you for doing things for the first time!
I appreciate everyone's help. Thank you.
 

lily the pink 

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chaos in my hives

I'm still a newbee too, and here in mid Norfolk the weather for the last three weeks has been mostly cold and wet. Since this is my first spring I've been torn between wanting to see what is going on in my two hives, and not getting them cold.

So in the half hour between 3 and 3.30 that was dry I tried to do a quick examination.

Both hives are showing the same presentation. Lots of stores still, in the super and some in the brood frames though most appears crystallised. Lots of bees. No worker brood. Scattered drone cells, and hatched drones. No sign of the queen but I've never seen either of them long enough to mark them, so I've been relying on evidence that she is there. One or two queen cells but I didn't examine every brood frame.

All together it looks like a bomb site.

Little evidence of varroa last year and testing showed minimal nosema.

We have two fields of OSR within easy reach but it doesn't look as if my colonies are going to be able to take advantage even if the weather dries.

What do I do next? Feed syrup? Try to borrow two frames of eggs and brood? Borrow one frame and combine the bees? Wait and hope? Or put an ad on ebay for two hives, hardly used?

Thank you.
 

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