Stored frames have been treated to prevent wax moth damage.
|Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead Beekeepers' Society||
210 lb of honey were taken off the Society Apiary this season. At the last inspection 7 colonies have been fed and are going into winter, although 2 may not be 'queen right'. However, the situation is confused because the MAQS strips used for varroa control appear to have put the queens off lay, because there was very little brood in any of the colonies.
Stored frames have been treated to prevent wax moth damage.
It was obvious something was kicking off the moment we arrived at the apiary as the picture opposite shows. There were bees all around the exit of the hive and clustering on the ground.
"Oh, they are probably a bit too warm and have come out to cool off", opined Denis as he drew our attention to a number of bees fanning at the entrance.
"May be they are clustering around the queen. Is she clipped?" someone quipped. No answer, but a good poke around the cluster revealed there was no queen.
When the hive was opened the 'hanging out to keep cool' theory crashed and burned . Look what we found:
Queen cells, some open, some sealed. Oh these bees were hot all right - hot to trot - they were about to swarm!
If somebody panicked nobody noticed because under Joy's cool stewardship the brood was taken (slightly further than the customary 2 metres) away and a brood box of foundation left in situ. A classic Pagden manoeuvre for swarm control coming up; we were all agog. Now all we had to do was find the queen.....
Half an hour later, after repeated searches of the brood box the queen was still elusive. "Are there eggs?" some old hand enquired.
"Um, er, no..but plenty of 3 day-old larvae".
"Well the queen stops laying for 2 days before they swarm, so she's probably already left", one of the mongers of doom suggested.
"No! Never! There are far too many bees here", we clamoured. But we still couldn't find the queen.
What to do? The flying bees had returned to the original location and the queen may have been with the brood in the new location. With no queen and no queen cells the flying bees were doomed, and with queen cells and a queen the remaining brood might still swarm. It was Dobson's choice.
And in a moment of creative genius Joy came up with a variant on the Pagden method; some frames with brood and queen cells would be moved back to the original location, and at the new location all remaining queen cells would be destroyed. If the queen was present all would be well, and if she wasn't the queenless colony would be reunited with the flying bees at the next apiary meeting.
We had an interesting meeting. Plenty of bee talk. The bees were all progressing well.Two hives were given another super, and the uniting of the two weak colonies worked well. Even the suspect queen has been installed somewhere. No signs of any swarm preparations yet. I wonder if we shall get the Spring gap this year as everything is so late.
It was a lovely afternoon at the apiary. Bees and beekeepers very well behaved as usual. We had twelve members attend so we split into two groups. The two weakest hives were put together using the newspaper,telegraph of course,method. I was about to squash the unwanted queen when shouts of NO went up. Someone now has a suspect queen in a cage with three attendants. Might prove useful. There were reports of two swarms seen yesterday. Six hives are doing very well. The two we supered two weeks ago needed a second one and three others
What an improvement on 2 weeks ago.All hives had good healthy brood patterns and were storing nectar and pollen. Even the queen that we face painted had a nice yellow dot on her back!! The weather looks good for this week so we decided to add a super to the strongest hives. It was a real pleasure to go through the hives as they were so well behaved.We finished the meeting with hot chocolate,tea or coffee and baklavas, thanks to Glynis. It doesn't get much better than that
Dennis 'decorating' the the queen
Eleven of us turned up for today's apiary meeting and despite the temperature being just over 10 degrees the decision was made to open up the hives for a quick inspection.
Six colonies were in fairly good shape with plenty of bees, queen-right and adequate stores but there was very little brood to be seen, and even less pollen - not surprising given the sustained cold weather over the last month. With relatively few bees it proved easy to spot the queen and the the opportunity was taken to mark some of the unmarked queens (well not so much 'mark' as to make a poor attempt at face-painting in one instance!)
One colony was in poor shape, with relatively few bees and no sign of the queen. Another was queen-right, but looked weak. If the queen is laying at the next inspection we'll consider uniting these two.
There were four of us at the apiary yesterday; Glynis, Joy, Richard and me. We examined the hive that had died and concluded that it was due to starvation. It still had some candy on top, but no brood at all and heads in cells which is a typical sign.
I tried to heft the other hives but they were frozen to the stands so we had to crack the ice to free them. We gave some more candy to one hive that felt a bit light.
I had put the varroa boards in 10 days ago so that we could count the daily drop.One hive had 12 mites over the 10 days, the others between 0 and 3 which was very good. Glynis thoughtfully plied us with hot chocolate and coffee and biscuits which helped to thaw us out. Hopefully the weather will improve before our meeting in 2 weeks time. Dennis
A quick check yesterday revealed that No.1 hive had died out and 4 and 6 needed more candy. The other 6 hives should be okay but there is very little pollen coming in. The weather looks to be very wet and cold for the next 7 days. I think some artificial pollen and light syrup will be needed if things don't change. Dennis
Visited the apiary at midday today but it was too cold to examine any colonies. Some appeared to be taking candy but two hives might be too weak, or even have died out. I will have to go again, hopefully when the sun is shining, to see any signs of activity such as pollen coming in. Dennis.
As of 25th February nine colonies exist. Four have candy over the crown board; only number 1 needed additional candy. I will continue to monitor the candy but as soon as the weather gets warmer we shall need to think about some syrup feeding. Dennis.