Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
It's interesting to find that even multiple weather forecasts can get it wrong these days. Rain was forecast for tomorrow, much of the day before a heatwave begins on Thursday...however I woke to a drizzly misty start and it's only now just beginning to dry up. Still, the Purple Tansy and Buckwheat seeds I broadcasted at the paddock on the hillside that is mostly bare earth after I controlled burned the thatch off will welcome the moisture and hopefully sprout before the mice / pheasants eat the seeds !

I'm still rootling through the box of beekeeping books I picked up at the GBKA auction at the weekend. 36 books of varying ages for a mere £5...14 pence a book. Only two are duplicates to my library - a Roger Morse one and the BBKA guide to beekeeping (which, say what you will about the BBKA itself, is actually a very good manual and well written and thought out).

The Ukrainian honey label honey is starting to sell - with 2 outlets asking for more. In effect each jar raises £1.50 for the cause which will be sent either to the DEC or the Nat Honey Show Go-Fundme page.

As I'm off work I decided to enter a few classes at the Royal Bath & West show to keep me busy and focused on something that doesn't give me stress. However chatting to a beekeeper at the weekend I wonder what I've let myself in for....?!

On the swarm front the same old same old 'I want to be on a swarm list but I never pick my phone' is happening again. I'm on it only because they amount to free bees but I always say call me last....and I've received a fair few calls from our swarm co-ordinator over the past 10 days or so as after calling 10+ people, with no answer, or 'I'm not ready' or 'I have no transport', I get a call in desperation to help out.

That aside, my bait hives have been working a treat. 2 large primes caught over the weekend, another 'encouraged' into a proper brood chamber with frames instead of setting up home in a stack of empty framed hive bodies (that took some doing and lots of smoke and strong words) and two smaller castes into some old bait boxes. Another I happened across while checking on a batch of nucs. It was on the ground and half the swarm had clustered over an empty hive in the corner, the other half were on the ground. Quickly I popped s skep over them thinking the queen might be there...after half an hour of them running around in circles around the skep (very odd) they mostly took to the air again and on examining the ground I found a small cluster of bees surrounding a dead queen bee. I definitely didn't run them over on arrival, so it was a mystery...

Anyway, back to checking the nucs, I had to manually release a number of the queens from their cages as the fondant was too hard for them to chew through to release them as planned...and one took to the air. Oh lordy, she was gone.....and joined the throng of bees from the queenless swarm.
They then proceed to head to the hive they had earmarked first of all, and on rushing over I glimpsed the marked queen but missed my change to catch her.

Thinking oh well at least she's not completely lost I got stuck into the other hives in the apiary...when as I walked back down the line to get some additonal supers I spotted a commotion at the start of the nuc boxes....and worked out that the swarm had vacated the hive they wanted and the queen had somehow (I know not how) found her way back to the line of nucs and the bees were clustering over the empty queen cages.

Working out which nuc she should have been in in the first place I rearranged the nucs to give some space and opened the top of the nuc and within minutes the entire swarm had moved into the nuc with the queen (presumably as I didn't see here but there was lots of fanning going on)

You couldn't make it up ! I've never seen anything like that before happening, especially with a new queen that was just released from her cage !

I did a calculation of empty hives vs the number of nucs and splits I have at the moment and think I'll be at the limit by June...but I have a fair bit in the flat that'll probably have to be pulled into service before long. I wasn't planning selling many splits / nucs this season but maybe I will after all.

The rest of yesterday's afternoon/evening was spent refilling the truck with supers and making up new supers from cleaned frames...I've pondered long and hard as to the value of making new from old, especially with the numbers I have of supers, but I figure that a frame ready to accept new foundation saves on the making, and nails/staples and if the foundation won't readily slide into the groves, then I just throw it on the fire pile, but this still means 95% of frames are re-used. I think it's the general background noise of rising costs that is steering me this way, even though I largely buy 2nds frames in bulk, and they of course are far cheaper than the standard first quality ones, it just seems wasteful to throw them away just because they need a bit of a scrape.

So to this week - more queens arriving on Friday, my own queen rearing just getting up to speed from my earmarked colonies and we have some much needed rain to keep the OSR nectar flowing....not long before it has to be removed and the hives split up to various apiaries...

It's almost June...! Where did Spring go ?