Weekly Inspection – April Rain

Well the bad weather has continued this week, lots of rain and temperatures only reaching 12°C. The rain meant that I put off doing the last stage of the queen rearing but only by a day. Noticeable that the bees haven’t been able to forage much and have been eating through their stores this week. Transferred sealed queen cells into the two apideas. Replaced one of the sealed queen cells with a spare laying queen I was given from two colonies being united (not my bees). I set up a nuc with brood and bees from Aqua and Cyan – dusted with icing sugar to prevent fighting and put the queen into a Butler cage between two frames. So I’ll see how she gets on over the next few weeks.

On Thursday, 19th whilst doing the transfer of queen cells in the Plum colony I examined the Maroon colony which had shown signs of swarming last week. There were more new charged queen cells so I took out the queen and four frames of brood and stores and put into a nuc and brought it back to my home apiary. I will let the parent colony raise a new queen.

So I currently have 2 new nucleus colonies(Green and Lime), each with laying queens.

Took out the varroa slides at the Mole apiary and only found a total of 3 mites, so nothing to worry about on this front.

Flowering: Pear and horse chesnut both coming into bloom.

Weekly Inspection – April Showers

Well the weather has been awful this past week. Showers, sometimes very heavy, and temperatures around 10C. The forecast for the coming week is more of the same.

The modified Snelgrove board split is progressing well (see the blog for more details). Managed to stock my 2 apideas as part of the queen rearing with bees from Maroon and Orange colonies.

Put the varroa slides in on the out apiary colonies. Will see what the mite drop is next week.

Monday, 16th – inspected home colonies

Gooseberry still in flower and the Goat Willow catkins are out. Lots of other blossom also out.

Weekly Inspection – Easter

Well the weather has been much colder around 10°C – 12°C all week. Starting to see evidence of swarming activity – charged queen cells , 2 with eggs and lots of queen cups. Took out 2 slabs of drone brood. Evidence of quite a lot of Varroa in one colony, so will treat with icing sugar next week.

Have also put the Apidea frames into a colony to see if they will draw the comb, then I can feed Apideas with wet sugar rather than syrup.

The largest colony, Plum, seems set on swarming so will go back tomorrow to perform a Snelgrove style split.

Flowering: Plum finishing, gooseberry just starting

Weekly Inspection – April Fool

Well the weather has been exceptional – up to 20 C. Bees have been very active bringing in lots of pollen and nectar. Managed to inspect both home and River Mole apiaries, will try to do Westhumble on Wednesday.

Saw a drone with white eyes (forgot my camera) which is a recessive trait. Also the queen in the largest colony at the Mole apiary is massive, so will need to try and breed from her later in the season.
Decided to try and strengthen the nuc to see if I can get it to a viable state with a view to re-queening later in the season.

Forecast for the coming week is much lower temperatures, which may slow things down.

Flowering: Plum and flowering cherry

River Mole – First Inspection

Weather has been fantastic all week and looks set to continue. Following yesterdays’ inspection I went down to the Mole River apiary site to inspect the bees for the first time. All 3 colonies are on 14 x 12 brood boxes.

Didn’t see any of the queens but plenty of eggs – so should be OK. Also saw some drones, which is very early in the season.

First Inspection of Season – My Colonies

After the nice weather we have been having, temperatures between 16-18°C, I decided to inspect my colonies. Three are in good shape and one looks very weak and may not survive. 3 strong colonies bringing in plenty of nectar and pollen.

The 3 colonies with pollen substitute, including one in my out apiary, have hardly touched it, so removed.

The brood box at the out apiary has been holed by a woodpecker so will need to be replaced. I will need to remember to make up some protection covers for the end of the year.

Plum now in flower.

Adding First Supers

As the weather has been OK and the bees are busy I decided it was time to add a super to each of the colonies. Still too cold for a proper inspection so will wait a couple of weeks for this. Only managed to add supers for home apiary colonies, so will try to add those for the 2 out-apiary sites during the week. Couldn’t see any consumption of the pollen substitute patties so won’t do that again unless I manage to collect and mix in some pollen. It will be interesting to see if there is any difference with the colonies in the out-apiary sites as they are in a rural location and may want the feed more than my back garden colonies.

Added supers with drawn comb from last years extracted supers.

First Visit To River Mole Out Apiary

This was my first trip to see the 3 colonies I will be managing on behalf of another local beekeeper for this season. They are in an out apiary next to the River Mole. All 3 colonies are on 14 x 12 boxes. I removed the woodpecker screens and lifted the lid to check how many seams of bees there were in each as well as heft them to check for stores.

All seem to be in a good state.

Making Up and Feeding Pollen Substitute

Made up some pollen substitute and put on my colonies today, as I need very strong colonies for my plan to increase the number of colonies from 4 to 8. I gave each one a 1lb “patty”. Looking on various websites I decided that the simplest formula was:

  • 1.5Kg soya flour
  • 500g brewers yeast
  • 1Kg sugar
  • 4.5Kg sugar syrup – made up 2:1 (3Kg sugar to 1.5Kg water)

Mixed up in a food processor in 2 batches. Seemed to come out at the right consistency, like a sticky bread dough. In order to make it easy to handle I spooned 450g into freezer bags and laid these on top of the frames after cutting out a slot covering most of one side.

The soya flour wasn’t low fat and had a fat content of 20%. As the various information sources I read recommend a maximum fat content of around 7% I decided that 4Kg of sugar would result in an overall fat content of around 5% and as there is no pollen in the mix the sugar content needs to be high, in this case around 55%. It will be interesting to see how much of the patties the bees consume. Previously with commercial substitutes I’ve had very mixed success – some colonies like it and others barely touched it.

The Indigo colony in my out apiary is the one that I didn’t treat with Oxalic acid and looks to be quite strong but low on stores. So I will try and feed it later this week.

Update – 5th  March; fed Indigo with 8 litres of 2:1 syrup; which is probably a bit too much but decided to use a Miller feeder rather than a contact feeder as I’m not able to get to the out apiary site for a couple of weeks.

I think this year I will invest in a couple of pollen traps to build up a stock of pollen that I can use for next season’s spring feeding.

Bees Flying & Dying

First nice day we have had for some time and the temperature has got up to 9°C and the bees are flying.

However, the colony that I thought was weakest hasn’t survived. A quick look through indicates some dead bees on the frames but not enough for a viable colony. I don’t know whether it was just too weak to start with, but I’m sure the combination of  the Oxalic acid  treatment and recent very cold weather hasn’t helped.

I will check them for stores this week-end and then decide whether to feed them pollen substitute to try and kick start the season.

With the remaining colonies there is certainly quite a bit of activity and one or two bees have managed to collect some pollen, although not very heavy loads. With the crocuses in flower they can collect some pollen from them.

Collecting Pollen from Crocus

Sticky crocus pollen