Weekly Inspection 1st July

Weather has been OK for beginning of July – temperatures just below average around 20-22C.

flowering – cow parsley, geranium, Manuka, borage

interesting week – added 2 capped frames to cast (Emerald) (still not hatched out 5 days later)

saw 1st charged queen cell in Blue – only one

caught large swarm (Cyan) in the bait hive on 30th June – left in situ for now. Not inspected, so will check, feed and move to Out apiary during week

update on swarm – inspection on 6th July

Start of 2021 Season March Activity

Had looked at start of March to see which colonies had survived the Winter. Fortunately all 3 have survived, but not very strong so decided to feed half a block, 1.25Kg, Ambrosia to each of them. Weather was fine and sunny but still chilly around 10C. So didn’t inspect just added an eke plus the fondant. First time I have used Ambrosia so will be watching the progress of the colonies in the coming weeks.

quite a lot of forage about with early blossoms, hazel catkins and crocuses.

13th March – checked on how colonies are taking down the Ambrosia. Not much eaten in Aqua and Blue but Denim was half way through so added another 1.25Kg.

27th March – checked on Ambrosia intake.

Aqua -still over half left. Just 2 seams of bees, so not very strong

Blue – none left, so added another half block. 5 seams of bees, strongest of the three

Denim – none left, so added another half block. 4 seams of bees

Feeding Honey Back to The Bees

I know it’s not recommended but I had a super of old  honey, most of it crystallised in the combs. Rather than just bin it I decided to feed it back to my bees. So I uncapped 4 frames and put them into a super and left it about 15m from the hives. The bees found it and took about 2 days to clear the frames out. They made a mess of the foundation and a lot of wax debris was deposited on the ground. The condition of the drawn combs was such that they couldn’t be re-used and I put them in the solar wax melter. The whole process seems to have made the bees in all the hives very aggressive. I guess what I had unwittingly caused was a form of robbing activity and the colonies were taking measures to protect their own stores.

I was still left with another 5 frames, but didn’t want to repeat the process of leaving the frames in the open. I decided to uncap the frames and split these between two hives  and put them in a super above the crownboard. The bees cleared them in 2 days and when I removed the empty combs the bees were still very aggressive. But on the plus side they hadn’t destroyed the drawn combs and I will be able to re-use them.

So at least I have learnt one lesson – put the combs back on to a strong colony above the crownboard for best results.

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.