Nuc expanding

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New Bee
Jul 6, 2009
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Isle of Mull
Hive Type
Number of Hives
I got my first nuc from a local beekeeper some 8 weeks ago with capped queen cell. An anxious 8 weeks waiting to verify whether queenie hatched and performing.

Well she is, and very nicely as well - good girl! They all in national brood box and guzzling plenty of syrup from feeder.

Capped brood, and eggs all in order with 2 new undrawn frames left either side of brood.

My question is, what do I do about the colony expanding further? A super on without excluder, and for how long and when? or what?
If they are out to 8 frames then pop a super on them.
Isle of Mull?

Congrats on having bees there.

I would put on the super with the excluder for a start as if they go up and begin working up there then you are saved a job later, that of putting HM back down stairs.

Are you the only beekeeper on the island or are there others?

Poly Hive???
Ok, so excluder in - thanks.

Yes there are several beekeepers up here and fortunately all disease free. We hope to keep it that way. However it does mean that nucs are pretty thin on the ground and I hope to help improve the situation by increasing stock asap. But going to be a slow process as I only have one nuc in a national. I do have a TBH and a bait box out waiting for a chance feral swarm. And a slim chance of a black bee nuc from another island - heres hoping.
Well done Popz. It is great to hear that Mull has another beekeeper. Was Sheila the beekeeper who got you underway?

Personally if I was you I'd leave out the Q excluder, at least for now. I'm assuming that you will stop feeding very soon, as otherwise your bees will store sugar in the super. Your local bees are unlikely to be very vigorous and the single brood box may keep them happy - especially if there is already an arch of stores over the brood area. Even if the queen does lay in the super it will be only a couple of frames and she'll retreat down as the summer comes to an end. You might find the bees reluctant to go up into the super, and adding a queen excuder can make that worse. Many beekeepers call them honey excluders.

But ... it doesn't matter too much.

If you are planning to build numbers of colonies getting some (slightly!) different genetics may help - so capturing a feral swarm would be great, or exchanging queens with another local beekeeper in a year or two.

Am I right in thinking that Mull is still Varroa-free?

best wishes

Ah now if Mull is varrroa free I have a beekeeper in Shetland very keen indeed to chat to you.

He is now worried about inbreeding, wants to import some fresh blood but is for good reasons keen not to infect him self.

If you even might be able to help can you pm me please.

Well done Popz. It is great to hear that Mull has another beekeeper. Was Sheila the beekeeper who got you underway?Gavin

Gavin. Thanks for your advice and excluder free it will be. And yes, as far as I am aware we are varroa free here. So have to be very careful where we get stock from.

Sheila is indeed the supplier of my nuc and is also there for great help. I am really interested in getting my TBH stocked so that I can compare husbandry and performance between national and TBH. I gather that TBH's are sort of frowned on by some?
Hi Popz

Great that you are in touch with folk locally who can give you good advice (and bees for that matter!). I'm really pleased that you are already aware of the issues of the movement of stock which isn't well adapted for the location, and the possible introduction of Varroa to Varroa-free areas. Neither of these issues seem important when you are sitting somewhere in Middle England, but things are different in the more remote parts of the UK. The coastal areas of Wester Ross are also mentioned as Varroa-free. A new beekeeper who didn't have local contacts at the time introduced bees there from SW England last year and - when they died out overwinter - was about to do it again this spring. I don't blame folk for doing this if they don't know any better, but the bee trader involved had no hesitation in trying to make the sale then teasing about his sales to Scotland later. Anyone who criticises this trader on here gets stick from folk who are grateful for his ability to supply bees at a time when they can be hard to come by, but I'll continue to speak up.

Anyway, welcome to the craft and welcome to the forum.

Top bar hives? Sure, you will find beekeepers that think that they are unsuitable but then you will find beekeepers that think everyone should be using only wood, only polystyrene, only Langstroths, only Buckfast (actually I have some Buckfast in my apiary and I quite like them!). In truth, TBHs might be educational and interesting and *might* have additional advantages such as a freedom from commercial foundation (but you can go foundation-free in a standard box too) and permitting the bees to draw the comb size they want (tried that myself - and I'm not convinced that it did anything useful).

It is probably fair to say that managing your bees will be easier in a standard box, and with Amm stocks and the gentle moist climate of Mull and its flora, single National boxes would probably do the job well. Bees can be reluctant to work sideways especially with limited income, and like to work upwards where the environment is warmer above the broodnest. All this means that your TBHs might make a lot less honey than similar bees in Nationals, but give it a go by all means and let us know how you get on.

all the best

Gavin - thanks for all that. Rumour has it that somone here on the island has ordered bees off Ebay! Just hope it is yet another island rumour of which we have very many!

I understand about TBH's. I guess honey is not quite so important as husbandry is to me. Nice to get the yummy stuff, but allowing the little darlings to go their own way and watching how they do it should be fascinating - I hope. I did not realise you could top bar in a national although of course I guess the warre (have I spelt that right?) system is along those lines. I have a neighbour who is wearing, warreing or whatever, so shall watch his progress with interest.

You mention 'Amm' stocks, what is that?
native bees
Apis Mellifera Mellifera