Apidea – Trials and Tribulations

My endeavours with queen rearing in the two Apideas doesn’t seem to be working out.

Eggs laid by a worker

Drone Laying Worker

They have drawn the frames out very well and seem to have enough stores. The apidea with a ripe queen cell seems to have hatched out but I can’t see any sign of the queen and it’s probably too soon for her to be mated and laying eggs. So given presence of multiple eggs in the cells I can only assume that it’s a drone laying worker rather than a normal queen. I’ve never seen so many eggs in individual cells.





The apidea that had a laying queen in it for a day has developed a nice looking queen cell. Not sure whether I will get a viable queen but decided to leave it and see what happens. Hopefully the weather will improve for her to stand a chance of getting mated.
Apidea Raising Its Own Queen Cell

Queen cell built by bees in the Apidea

Swarm Control – Using a Modified Snelgrove Board Part 3

I managed to dodge the showers to complete the last stage of the swarm control activity with the modified Snelgrove board I started 10 days ago.

I inspected the queen raiser brood box and found six capped queen cells, of which three were reasonably sized. So kept one, cut out two others for the apideas and discarded the remainder. Didn’t take long and so the bees didn’t get chilled.

I had opened the entrances on the apideas this morning so it was fairly straightforward to put the sealed queen cells in. However, I obtained a laying queen from somebody uniting two small colonies and put this into one of the apideas instead of the queen cell. I used a Butler cage to introduce the queen in. Not sure how long the queen will tolerate the small mini nuc, so will need to think about setting up a proper nuc when the weather improves.

The other colony at the Mole apiary site had started a new batch of queen cells. With the weather being poor I decided to take the queen out with 3 frames of brood and stores plus bees shaken from one additional comb into a nuc and bring it home. As the bees don’t have much stores I put a contact feeder on. I will have to inspect the parent colony in nine-ten days to select a queen cell. I guess if the apideas don’t succeed with the current queen and queen cell then I will have some more queen cells to use.

Swarm Control – Using a Modified Snelgrove Board Part 2

The split seems to be doing well. The colony looks to be balanced with more bees in the queen rearing half. This is to be expected as the flying bees are returning to this colony. Both entrances are being used.

  1. There are no queen cells in the lower parent, didn’t spot the queen but there were about 3 frames of eggs out of the 6 brood frames.
  2. In the queen raiser half there were about 6 unsealed queen cells, none on the frame I gave them from the lower box. I will go back in 3 days to select one cell to remain and take 2 for my apideas.

The apidea frames that I put into the super hadn’t been drawn any further than when I visited on Tuesday. So I just took them out and stocked the apideas with bees from the other 2 colonies. As I hadn’t added any feed I was able to use the bottom slide and it’s certainly easier than trying to get them in past the frames and push the lid on quickly.

I brought the apideas home and fed with syrup. Normally I find this to be very messy and lose a lot of bees taking the lid and cover off. But this time I drilled a small 4mm hole in the acrylic cover and used a syringe to squirt the syrup into the feeder. Certainly a lot easier than my past experiences. Finally I sprayed some water in through the front grill and put in a quiet spot to acclimatise and hopefully draw out the wax in the next few days.

Swarm Control – Using a Modified Snelgrove Board

My largest colony is on two 14 x 12 brood boxes and at the week-end showed signs of swarming with a number of charged queen cells and 2 additional ones with eggs in. The colony has plenty of space but as it is very big , 13 frames of brood, it seems to have decided to make preparations for swarming. Not being prepared I went back 2 days later to perform a split with a modified Snelgrove board. The technique was described by Ken Basterfield in Beecraft (April 2012).

It’s similar to the technique I normally use to raise 2 nucs above a brood box in a single stack system, but looks simpler and involves less manipulations. My usual split board is a solid floor with 2 entrances on opposite sides of the same face. So I made up a new Snelgrove type split board by cutting 2 entrances on opposite edges of a crownboard with one on the upper side and the other on the lower side. I then covered the porter escape slots with wire mesh on both faces.

Modified Split Board

Modified Crownboard

At the last inspection I used a queen excluder to confine the queen to the bottom box. Fist step was to take off the super and the top brood box and set to one side. I found the queen and put her in a clip cage whilst I went through the bottom box. The bottom box and floor were turned through 180 degrees and the entrance block closed off. I shook the bees off the frames to make sure I didn’t miss any queen cells knocking down the queen cells the bees had started in the last 48 hours since my last inspection – 3 charged ones and 2 with eggs in. I took a frames with mainly eggs from the bottom box and swapped this with a frame of stores from the top brood box. The modified split board came next with the upper entrance open for the top brood box in the same orientation as the original lower entrance. The entrance at the rear was opened up for the lower brood box.

The theory being the flying bees from the lower box will return to the front of the hive where the old entrance was and crawl up to the new entrance boosting the bees in the top box. This is different from most other methods using a split board as they normally ensure that the flying bees return to the parent colony, i.e. bottom box. But as the 2 brood boxes have a similar amount of brood combs it means that they should both be strong enough to rear the brood and the foragers can still access the super above the top box.

The frames with the open queen cells could have been moved into the top box, but as I had shaken them I decided to let the bees draw their own queen cells from one of the existing brood frames or even from the transferred frames of eggs and larvae.

I will inspect in 5 days to select just one queen cell for the top brood box and if there are any spare ones transfer them to Apideas. It will also give me a chance to inspect the lower box and check that it has no queen cells and enough bees. If there aren’t enough bees in the bottom box I can reverse the split board and boost it with the flying bees from the top box. The bees had started to draw the comb on the Apidea frames that I mounted on a top bar and put into the super at the week-end.

It will be interesting to see how the technique works.