Archive for April, 2011

Apiary Advanced Training 27th April

April 28, 2011

It was a busy evening again and luckily the weather was good, all be it a little chilly by the end of the evening.

We started by initiating queen rearing employing the Miller Technique. We chose Hive 7 as our breeder and host colony as it was strong with bees on all of the frames in the Brood and Super boxes. On opening the hive we discovered open Queen Cells so obviously the colony was preparing to swarm, an ideal situation for rearing queens. The queen was removed to a nucleus with along with 2 frames of brood a fresh frame of foundation cut into Miller V’s and a frame feeder. All queen cells were torn down in hive and nucleus and the nucleus was removed to the Nursery for the Miller frame to be drawn out and the queen to lay in. In up to 7 days we should have suitable larvae to transfer the frame back into the original hive for queen cells to be raised.

Hive 9 we intended carrying out an artificial swarm but first we practiced clipping queens by using drones available from the colony. Once we started to look for the queen we found sealed swarm cells and luckily the queen. The queen and a couple of frames were placed in the new hive and the supers placed on that hive. As we had queen cells on two distinct frames and sufficient bees we created two Nucleus colonies and transferred them to the Nursery. Attached are notes on carrying out an artificial swarm, this method can be used for swarm control, making increase and varroa management of an infested colony. The same basic method applies to each requirement.

We carried out a full disease inspection Hive 3 which is coming towards the end of a Bailey comb change. In doing so we discovered sealed swarm cells in the bottom brood box, this was moved to another stand and made up to a complete hive.

Finally last week we placed the bottom brood box from hive 6 in the Nursery to let it create emergency queen cells, it has produced 6 across two frames. As we had seen enough queen cells on this visit it was good to compare swarm and emergency cells. Swarm are generally large and peanut shaped generally along the edge of the frame in large numbers whilst emergency queen cells are small and on the face of the brood frame and have been drawn from worker cells.

The Apiary currently has 8 queen right colonies and 5 colonies with sealed queen cells, it is going to busier with the rape now in full flower all around!

The Artificial swarm.pdf

Just before the swarm

April 27, 2011

Last week when inspecting the colonies on Tuesday we tore down several queen cells in Hive 2 and rearranged things so that the colony had more space. The next full inspection was not due for a further 9 days so on Monday (7 days on) a quick inspection was carried out. The queen was seen but there were several good swarm cells just about to be capped.

A nucleus box was placed next to the hive with the entrance facing the opposite direction. The frame with the queen on was placed in the Nuc along with four further frames from the main hive containing stores and all stages of brood. Queen cells on the frames transferred to the Nuc were torn down. The brood frames in the main hive were placed together in the centre of the brood box and flanked by fresh frames.

By removing the queen we have prevented a swarm issuing until at least when the 1st virgin queen emerges (8 days after queen cell capped) and by reducing the brood the colony may now not swarm due to the lack of young bees.

Positioning the Nuc box close to the original hive maintains our options for what to do with the colony and the original queen.

At the next inspection we may split the main hive again if we have sufficient good sealed swarm cells, further reducing the chance of a swarm issuing and hopefully resulting in an additional small colony for use during the busy training programme this summer.

It has been an early spring this year and there are reports from several members of colonies swarming already, we were lucky in being able to save the queen and prevent a swarm issuing. At this time of year one should carry out inspections every 7 days and if a colony starts swarm preparations carry out preventative measures such as an artificial swarm.

Apiary programme for 2011

April 21, 2011

We shall be holding regular meetings at the Association Apiary throughout the summer, catering for new and more experienced beekeepers.

The calandar is given below:

Date Session Type
27-Apr Advanced
04-May Beginner
07-May Hardware Day
12-May Beginner
18-May Beginner
25-May Advanced
02-Jun Beginner
08-Jun Beginner
16-Jun Beginner
22-Jun Advanced
29-Jun Beginner
07-Jul Beginner
13-Jul Beginner
21-Jul Beginner
27-Jul Honey Extraction

The “Beginner” sessions are primarily for members who have been doing this year’s Beginners Course. Spaces at these sessions are limited so if you have not already put your name down, please contact Clare Hayward-Smith on 01494 488701 or email courses.

During the summer we plan to hold additional sessions for members who have joined recently but were unable to take the course this year.

The “Advanced” sessions are for people who already have bees and will cover more advanced techniques and will also provide apiary experience for those taking the Basic Assessment.

Apiary Visit 19th April

April 21, 2011

It was just of a week since the Bailey comb changes and Shook swarm were initiated at the Apiary opening day so we had a bit of follow up work to do.

First we removed the bait frame from the Shook swarm which was carried out on Hive 4, the frame was fed to the chickens! This colony is relatively small as would be expected and will be an ideal training colony. We removed the Queen Excluder from below the Brood Box and placed it above with a super on top.

The three Bailey comb change hives each had the queen laying in the top box so she was trapped in with the addition of Queen Excluder below the top box. Supers were added to each hive so as to encourage the colonies not to lay down stores in the bottom Brood Box. The queens in Hives 1 and 6 were marked Blue, it was the first time the queen in 1 had ever been spotted and no wonder she is jet black! Hive 6 was showing signs of Varroa, high drop count and deformed wing, so the bottom Brood Box was removed to another stand creating a form of Artificial Swarm. This action does a couple of things, reduces the population of varroa significantly as all the sealed brood is in the bottom box and in the removed box disrupts the varroa life cycle since there will be no new brood in which the varroa will reproduce for a month or so.

The varroa drop count on all the other colonies in the apiary was extremely low to insignificant.

Of the other colonies we have mixed bunch:

– Hive 2 is showing swarming tendencies, tore down open queen cells, need to do an Artificial Swarm on 27th April

– Hive 7 doing really well with two supers of uncapped honey, 3rd super added

– Hive 8 has a red queen and is not progressing well, she will need to be superseded

– Hive 9 doing well and busy

The rape in the adjacent field is now coming into flower. With weekly training sessions starting on 27th April we should be able to keep on top what is already looking like a busy season.

Apiary Opening Day

April 11, 2011

We had a very successful Apiary Opening yesterday with over 20 members attending at various times throughout the day.

We completed inspections of all colonies and started Bailey comb change procedures on three hives (1, 3 and 7), a Shook Swarm was carried out on hive 4 because of the prevalence of varroa. Hive 8 still has a red queen (this will be her 4th season) performing strongly and hives 2 and 9 which have new queens from the end of last season have started strongly.

The farmland surrounding the apiary has all been planted with Rape this year and it is just coming into flower, with all hives already filling their supers with honey we have put a second super on hives 2, 7, 8 and 9.

So with a strong flow and 8 good colonies it looks like we are off to a busy start of the season J

Thank you to everyone that came along and helped plus the organisers of the BBQ, which was a lovely way finish off an excellent day’s Beekeeping!