Posts Tagged ‘honey bee’

Winter is over and here come the girls….


Its been relatively quiet down at the apiary over the winter months with the bees mostly staying in their hives even if they did not cluster for long periods due to the warm weather we experienced again in the south east.

I did not feed any syrup in August following the honey removal last year as it was such a good year that the bees were still bringing in pollen and nectar late into the season and I had left a good amount of honey on the hives as this has to be better for them than a sugar substitute! I checked back on the bees around new year when I also applied oxalic acid, dribbled between the frames to help control the mite whilst the colony was without sealed brood, and gave each hive some bee candy above the crown board as an insurance policy against starvation. Its always nice to see the girls doing well at this stage but I am quite aware that this is never a guaranteed sign that they will all make it into spring.

The bees were still quite active and a few followed me when I left the apiary which was sad knowing that these would soon chill and fail to find their way back home….

View across the new apiary site in April 2015

View across the new apiary site in April 2015

My bee buddy Paul and I also moved the apiary to a new location around new year, it was only a few hundred meters across the land so that the bees will now get more light earlier in the day as they had become overshadowed by the tress rapidly filling the skyline around their old homestead. Winter is one of the few times you can move the hives like this, at other times you have to stick to the ‘less than 3 feet or more than 3 miles’ rule to prevent the bees returning to the original hive location and clustering on the ground.

We strapped the hives but didn’t block the entrances and wheeled them carefully across the bumpy ground in a wheelbarrow. All the bees behaved and stayed indoors until we got to the final hive with the feisty black British queen (these are my best honey makers) and they came streaming out en-mass and found a hole in Paul’s gloves to let him know about their disapproval, needless to say I ended up moving that one on my own.

Bees landing at the hive

I returned to lift the roofs and check how the bees were getting on in February and a couple of hives had started to nibble the candy, despite still having some honey in the outside frames, just goes to show that they would rather go up than sideways in their search for supplies.

Early April saw a mini heatwave across the UK with above average temperatures and sunshine hours and the bees didn’t waste a minute of it. The bees have been very busy and nearly all the hives had 8 or 9 frames of brood and pollen across the ‘brood and half’ system that I run. With colonies this strong it was definitely time to add the first supers to give the bees more room for stores, prevent hive congestion and maybe delay the inevitable swarming for a couple more weeks whilst I get my backup gear sorted and ready for use.

As a beekeeper with a busy life, young family and full time employment I don’t often get the opportunity to simply stand back and watch the bees but I recently took some time to photograph the bees activity at the apiary and just enjoy watching them in flight bringing in the spring pollen, you can learn so much about the strength and health of a colony through observation at the entrance and its far less intrusive to the bees than opening the hive up. I hope to get the time to do this a bit more often in the future….

landing gear down

landing gear down

Lots of activity at the hive entrance

Lots of activity at the hive entrance

The weather has become more unsettled, with cooler wet and windy weather across the UK this week and the girls are not flying as much but I have no doubt that they are still just as busy indoors and planning the plot to their own ‘game of thrones’ so now I am just waiting for a break in the rain to try and catch up with them….

As ever I will be adding to this blog as and when time allows and I am not actually elsewhere or with the bees in 2015, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and for your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Guard bee at the hive entrance

A worker bee guarding the hive entrance

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Happy Christmas from the apiary


Well its coming to the end of 2014 and its been another fantastic beekeeping season, the apiary has expanded and its been a bumper year as far as honey production goes. I’ve started experimenting and using more wax for candle making on a hobby scale and am currently cleaning up the propolis that I have collected over the last few years and am hoping to start making some medicinal tinctures with this, possibly blended with echinacea, in 2015.

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since...

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since…

 

It’s just beginning to to get cold in the south east and hopefully the girls will stop flying soon, we are still waiting to apply our oxalic acid and will be moving the apiary site to a better location in the coming weeks.

The blog articles that have generated the most interest over the year continues to be my writing about using bee venom therapy (BVT) for treating rheumatoid arthritis and it has been a real joy to hear the really positive stories of other people who have felt inspired to try this after reading of our success and have themselves made real progress in overcoming this auto-immune disease. I hope that others looking for advice and information on this subject continue to find the blog and realise the the western drug route for controlling the pain is not the only option open to them.

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Another highlight of my beekeeping year was my wife finally joining me at the hives now the children are slightly older and can entertain themselves whilst we attend the queen and her workers. I think that she was amazed at just how spiritual and humbling the whole experience is of opening up the hives, watching and listening to the bees communicating and absorbing all the associated scents of honey, wax and propolis. I’m looking forward to more joint visits in the sunshine as the 2015 season rolls out.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog this year, there have been over 37, 000 visits at the time of writing this article. Please keep the comments, questions and feedback coming as it is always nice to hear from fellow keepers, wherever you are based in the world.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year, keep an eye on your bees over the winter months and remember to give emergency feed if required and check the hives if we get a repeat of last years storms or any heavy snow.

Snow

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Down at the apiary....

Down at the apiary…. December 2014

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body


I was recently contacted by a US based company who had read some of the blog where I talk about our experience of using BVT to ask me if I would share their infographic detailing the effects of anaphylaxis on the body.  This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

You may have a food intolerance or a minor allergic reaction to something you come into contact with, but that pales in comparison to anaphylaxis. Almost any substance can be an allergen, including foods and insect bites or stings. The cause can’t always be pinpointed. The first time you’re exposed to the substance, your immune system learns to recognize the foreign invader. In anaphylaxis, when you’re exposed again, your immune system has an exaggerated response that affects the whole body and may put your life in danger. Symptoms may begin within seconds and they can progress swiftly.

The first line of treatment is usually adrenaline, because it can turn things around quickly. Once you’ve experienced anaphylaxis, you’re always at risk, so you should take great caution to avoid the triggering substance. Your doctor will probably prescribe adrenaline in the form of a prefilled autoinjector that you can carry with you. If you need to use the autoinjector pen, you can inject yourself or have someone else do it for you. You should always seek medical help after using adrenaline. Symptoms sometimes return, but usually within a 72-hour period.

Immune System

Your immune system fights antigens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It learns to recognize these harmful substances and works to neutralize them. Once your immune system has come into contact with an antigen, it stores the information for future use. When it’s doing its job, you don’t get sick.

Sometimes, when you come into contact with that antigen again, your immune system overreacts, blowing the event out of proportion. Far too much histamine and other inflammatory chemicals are quickly released into your system. This causes a wide variety of problems that can have devastating results.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced naturally by your body. In anaphylaxis, an extra dose can help increase blood flow throughout your body and help reverse the immune system’s aggressive response.

Respiratory System

Inflammation in the respiratory system can cause the bronchial tissues to swell. Symptoms include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It can also cause fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and cough. You may make high-pitched or wheezing sounds when you breathe. A feeling of tightening in the chest and chest pain are common. Respiratory distress is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Untreated, it can lead to respiratory arrest. Patients with asthma are at particular risk.

Skin (Integumentary System)

One of the more obvious signs of anaphylaxis can be seen on the skin. It may start out as itchiness and redness, or just a mild warming of the skin. It can progress to welts, or hives that hurt when you touch them. If your respiratory system is in trouble, skin may turn blue from lack of oxygen. Pale skin means you’re going into shock.

Circulatory System

In anaphylaxis, small blood vessels (capillaries) begin to leak blood into your tissues. This can cause a sudden and dramatic drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms include rapid or weak pulse and heart palpitations. When major organs don’t get the blood and oxygen they need to perform, your body goes into anaphylactic shock. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. Untreated, you are at great risk of damage to internal organs or cardiac arrest.

Digestive System

Even if your reaction is usually mild, food allergies put you at increased risk of developing anaphylaxis. Digestive system symptoms include bloating, cramps, and abdominal pain. You may also have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Central Nervous System

Even before the first physical symptoms occur, some people have a weird feeling – a sense that something bad is about to happen. Others describe a metallic taste in their mouth. Inflammation in the central nervous system can make you lightheaded or dizzy. Some people get a headache. There may be swelling of the eyes. The lips and tongue can swell enough to make it hard to talk. If the throat swells, it can block your airway. Anaphylaxis can cause mental confusion, anxiety, and weakness. Other symptoms include slurred speech, hoarse voice, and difficulty talking. As your body goes into shock, loss of consciousness occurs.

You can see the overview of the report and access the interactive graphics here

Bee venom must always be treated with the utmost respect, even if you are a seasoned keeper who has been stung on multiple occasions. Always make sure that you let someone else know that you are going to visit your bees and where they are, the time you expect to return, carry a mobile phone and any medication that you may require. If in any doubt following a sting alert the emergency services and wait for collection, the last thing they want is you causing a RTA when you pass out behind the wheel on the way to hospital!

I hope to keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Spring 2014 and the bees are flying again


Well it’s been a while since I have had a chance to write anything here but as ever the beekeeping year has sneaked up on me and I have to be careful not to get to far behind as the bees are not hanging about waiting for me and are well under way with colony building and bringing in the pollen and nectar and making lots of beautiful honey.

Blues skies - April 2014

Blues skies – April 2014

It was an incredibly warm winter in the UK with only a couple of light ground frosts and the bees didn’t really seem to have clustered at any point when I checked on the hives to apply oxalic acid and again to feed candy. It was also the wettest recorded winter for 250 years and the UK was repeatedly battered by strong winds and storms, starting in early October, then again at the end December and continuing into early March.

Every time we had a big storm I had to visit the out apiary just to make sure that the hives were still standing and despite feeling my house shaking several times during the night of one of the storms we only had one warre hive blown over. When I attended the apiary the boxes were split and the bees were wet, I did my best to reassemble the hive and scope bees up in the rain and although I didn’t see the queen amazingly the bees all pulled through and are flying again this year – they really are the most resilient little creatures.

One of the downsides to the bees not clustering is that by being more active in the hives they used their winter stores up far earlier than normal and there was a very real risk of starvation in all the colonies despite feeding heavy syrup in August and September.

Emergency candy was fed from the end of December, when I also applied the oxalic acid as mite control, up until early march when the girls were flying again and bringing in pollen.

Bees bringing in the pollen to feed the brood - Spring 2014

Bees bringing in the pollen to feed the brood – Spring 2014

My first proper hive check this year was at the beginning of April and I wasn’t sure what state I would find the colonies in but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were all very healthy and the queens had been busy and there was brood of all stages on 9 of the 11 frames in all the hives as well as honey and pollen. I don’t recall the colonies being this large so early on in previous years, I added my first honey super and went back 10 days later to check how they were getting on. The bees have drawn the comb in the supers and they are about 70% full on each hive although not capped yet I can see the need for the next super in the next few days.

Last year I wrote about losing a colony to isolation starvation and the sadness that it brings to beekeepers to lose a single hive but it also brings great joy when they pull through the winter and you get to open up the hives with the sun on your back and feel the energy of the bees flying around you with the sounds and smells only known to those who spend time in the company of the bees.

During my first visit I removed the mouse guards and chicken wire used as winter protection, I also used this opportunity to replace the brood boxes for fresh ones and clear the floors although I use mesh on all hives and the bees do a good job of keeping these clear (or all the waste falls through) and I have been very busy with the blow torch sterilising everything since.

Lots of pollen being packed away for use in brood rearing

Lots of pollen being packed away for use in brood rearing

I have also been busy getting my spare equipment ready for swarm control as I am sure that the colonies will start making preparations soon and I have three national hives on standby for this purpose. I have also been making up new frames and re-waxing a few old ones. I decided to renew some of the frames that were donated to me when I first started out – these are quite old now and I think it is time to burn them. I am also phasing out the Manleys that I have been using – I made up twenty of these and have used them for the last three years but find that the bees heavily propolise them making it hard to remove them individually from the super for inspection or when extracting – they all get ‘glued’ together as one block so moving back towards the DNS4 frames.

Incidentally I popped into Thornes at Windsor and spoke to Bob, we were discussing bee space around the queen excluders and whether the zinc or plastic flat excluders were a disadvantage to the bees compared to the wired excluders in frames which have bee space.

He gave me a top hint – when making up brood frames clip the top corner of the wax on each side to take out a small triangular bite, not only does this make it easier to make up the frame  quickly as you are not trying to push the wax along the grooves and into the joint between the side bar and top bar but it leaves a small amount of bee space for the queen to pass between the frames. The bees will reduce it down but leave a ‘little doorway’ if you do this then having top space above the frame is not quite so important!

Can you spot the queen in this shot?

Can you spot the queen in this shot?

Anyway as the year starts I am a happy beekeeper, having seen all my queens, the colonies are healthy and strong and the bees are bringing in pollen and nectar and making honey. I have my spare equipment ready for swarm control and empty honey supers stacked up to collect the harvest…. so what could possibly go wrong? Well they say that every beekeeping season is different and I have certainly found that so far so sure I will be writing about something new and exciting very soon!

Hope you are all having a good start to the beekeeping year! @danieljmarsh

Hope you are all having a good start to the beekeeping year! @danieljmarsh

I hope to keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

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Busy busy bees – new queens on their way


Following on from my apiary visits at the beginning of the month where I had found new queen cells I carried out a textbook artificial swarm, once I had found the elusive and newly slimmed down queen. The queen cups were already built and these had eggs in them rather than larva or pupa so it was quite early in the whole swarming process so I returned last week to carry out another quick check just to make sure that the bees had continued their journey to requeening the colony once the original fertile queen had been removed and re-hived with her flying workers.

Queen cells - June 2013

Queen cells – June 2013

I need not have worried as the bees had done what nature has taught them is required when the colony is queenless and they had the advantage of eggs laid in queen cells as opposed to having to draw out an emergency queen using an egg laid in a normal worker cell – never the best solution and these tend to get superseded very quickly.

Queen cells - June 2013

Queen cells – June 2013

The uncapped queen cell  in the image above has been abandoned and did not contain a larva, however this hive had produced four new queens from the cells that I had spotted in my earlier visit and these are all capped, surprisingly they had also produced some slightly smaller cells which I assume were also queens on an outside frame in the brood box – these were all on new comb so lighter in colour than those above – I have not seen this before and hope that these were not emergency queens due to their being a problem with the other earlier queens in the hive? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this, please comment if you have any ideas?

Queen cells on new comb on an outside frame

Queen cells on new comb on an outside frame

The original queen that I moved onto new foundation in a single brood box had also been busy and after a week or so in her new home she had completely filled the single brood box on the hive almost to the outside frames with eggs so these bees desperately needed new space for colony expansion and storing food so I gave them an extension in the form of a new super on the brood – I am beginning to think that I may need to go with a double brood system next year if my queens keep working so hard – I have not had any problems with the colony expansions this year. I put this down to re-queening last year (naturally), early feed during the spring and the great location of the apiary on the Kent/Sussex borders surrounded by established woodland, agricultural land and urban areas within reach of the foraging bees.

I spent part of the weekend cutting out old comb, cleansing frames before adding new foundation, sterilising supers and brood boxes and generally getting myself ready for the summer flow which is just beginning – I have greater hope for my bees than last year and the weather is supposedly going to return to near average temperatures again by the end of the week, or so we are told. I hope that your girls are doing as well and you are having as much fun!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog,  feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions or general feedback, click on the right column to subscribe and receive updates when I next have the time between chasing the bees to write again.

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

N.B. clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window.

Bees in my garden ….


I think its very hard to be a beekeeper and not take an active interest in all the bees, and other insects, that you come across in your garden or when out and about. I don’t keep my honey bees at home due to living in a build-up urban area with smaller gardens so I don’t often get the chance to just sit and watch my bees outside of my apiary visits.

I do however grow as many bee friendly plants as I can and try and encourage both wild bees and honey bees into the garden as well as producing a source of pollen and nectar to help conserve these solitary bees. Over the last couple of weeks I have been really enjoying watching the bumblebees tumbling all over the flowers on my raspberry plants – there are several distinct species and there is a great tool online from the Natural History Museum website to help you identify them – it helps if you take a photo for reference, here are a few of mine below (clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window):

Bombus pratorum (Early Bumblebee)

Bombus pratorum (Early Bumblebee)

Whilst I was studying these bees I noticed some appeared to be falling to the ground and landing on the grass, on closer inspection it also appeared that the bees were fighting amongst themselves – all very strange and certainly not something that I had witnessed before so I contacted a local entomologist, Dr Ian Beavis, who is a great source of knowledge (as well as an enthusiastic leader of many bug safaris in our local wild spaces) to see if he could shed some light on this unusual behaviour.

Bombus Hypnorum - disorientated on the grass after a fall from flight

Bombus Hypnorum – disorientated on the grass after a fall from flight

He replied to say not all is as it first appears, the bees are looking for a mate and will barge into and grab a partner whilst in flight, then reject them when they realise that they are the wrong species or sex which leave the slightly disorientated bees falling to the ground. They don’t seem to get hurt and soon recover enough to carry on their foraging amongst the flowers, until the next suitor arrives on the scene that is….

Bombus Hypnorum -

Bombus Hypnorum – feeding on raspberry

A recent NERC study ‘Lonely bees make better guests’  has suggested that solitary bees are twice as likely to pollinate the flowers they visit as their more sociable counterparts so we must consider these bees equally as important as the honeybees we are used to tending to and  look to try and prevent their decline with as much energy, if not more so, as at  least the beekeeper can split a colony or breed additional queens to make up for losses.

Bombus Hypnorum -

Bombus Hypnorum – easily identified with its distinctive red/brown jacket and grey/white tail

Of course the bees are not the only visitors to my raspberry patch – right now there seems to be a wealth of insects flying around and feeding on the rich nectar including this Harlequin ladybird, image below. If you spot any of the different ladybird species in your gardens it would be greatly appreciated if you could help out with the UK Ladybird Survey, again there are all sorts of tools and downloadable PDF’s to help you identify the ones that you find and this is also a great activity to carry out with kids, teaching them the importance of nature.

Harlequin ladybird

Harlequin ladybird

A new ladybird has arrived in Britain . But not just any ladybird: this is the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth.

The harlequin ladybird was introduced to North America in 1988, where it is now the most widespread ladybird species on the continent. It has already invaded much of of north-western Europe, and arrived in Britain in summer 2004.

There are 46 species of ladybird (Coccinellidae) resident in Britain and the recent arrival of the harlequin ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds.

Monitoring ladybirds across the country has never been more important!

My lavender is just coming into flower and this always seems to attract more honey bees than I see on the raspberries so I am looking forward to watching these assuming that the weather improves enough for them to get out and forage this year!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog,  feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions or general feedback, click on the right column to subscribe and receive updates when I next have the time between chasing the bees to write again.

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

N.B. clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window.

June arrives bringing warmer weather but also swarms galore


Apiary - June 2013

At the apiary – June 2013

It’s been a cold and slow start to the beekeeping year, allegedly the coldest in 46 years and one of the 4 coldest since records began in 1910 and all this is on top of the appalling wet year that we had in 2012. Beekeepers all over the UK recorded above normal losses of bees during the extended winter months and although the coverage about pesticide use and bee loss has continued to dominate the  media many of these bees were simply lost to starvation and the cold weather. I sadly also lost a colony as I reported earlier in the year despite there being fresh bee candy in the hive literally millimeters above the bees…

Healthy bees in may as the colony starts to enlarge

Healthy bees at the hive entrance in may as the colony starts to enlarge

So the flowers were late, I fed my bees a light syrup as spring arrived and the colonies expanded really fast this year – it was great to see and as the belated wild blooms broke through the workers were ready to take advantage and I have had great joy watching the air around the apiary alive with pollen laden bees making their return flights back to the hives during the warmer and sunny days.

During my recent inspections I have seen large and healthy colonies, with the ‘brood and a half’ hive formation full of eggs, brood and stores with no room to spare. My first honey supers went on back in May and these are also now full to overflowing, although the honey is not yet capped. This weekend I added a second super to one hive with a smile as this was done a lot later last year so I feel very optimistic  that  the bees are having a better year already… I certainly hope so!

Chalk brood ejected from the hive

Chalk brood ejected from the hive

Hive checks back in May did reveal a higher level of chalk brood than I had previously seen, I wasn’t worried but interested to know why – then whilst reading another great beekeeping blog – ‘Adventuresinbeeland’s Blog by Emily Heath about her beekeeping in Ealing, West London, she happened to mention chalkbrood in her question/answer section of her informative revision notes for the BBKA exams:

Chalkbrood is an extremely common brood disease which is often present at low levels in colonies. It is thought to become a noticeable problem when the colony is weak and when levels of carbon dioxide rise above normal, because the bees are failing to maintain the correct conditions in the hive. It is also linked to stresses such as insufficient nurse bees, pollen shortage and the presence of sac brood.

Chalk brood is caused by a fungus named Ascosphaera apis. This delightful organism begins to germinate when a larva takes in its spores with its food. Inside the gut, the spores start to grow, producing multiple branches of fine cotton-like threads. These break through the gut wall and continue to grow throughout the body of the poor larva, until eventually it becomes “a swollen mass of fluffy white fungus with a small yellow lump where its head used to be“, as Celia Davis puts it in her excellent book ‘The Honey Bee Around & About’ (2007).

The infected larva dries to a hard chalk-like lump called a ‘mummy’, which can be white, grey or black. These will rattle when the comb is shaken. Death occurs after the cells have been sealed, so workers will tear the cappings open to remove the mummies and dispose of them outside the hive. Unfortunately the mummy spores are sticky and will attach to the bees, causing them to infect larvae when they re-enter the hive. Yet another reason to change brood comb regularly – the spores are resistant to heat and have a life of between 3-38 years.

Like chilled brood, beekeepers are most likely to see chalk brood in the spring when colonies are expanding the brood nest rapidly, but do not yet have a large adult bee population. Even if the resulting chilling is not sufficient to kill the larvae, it seems to encourage the growth of the Ascosphaera fungus.

And as the highlighted section indicates maybe my early feeding and rapid colony expansion was out of sync with the availability pollen to feed the brood once the bees had used that stored over winter in the hives. I guess I could have used a pollen substitute as a supplementary feed (there are many recipes online as well as those commercially produced) but as it is the bees effectively removed all the chalkbrood and it does not seem to have affected them or their ability to fill the hive with brood again and it no longer seems to be a problem at all. Interestingly it also only affected one hive in the apiary.

Buckfast queen back in May, plump and laying very well

Buckfast queen back in May, plump and egg-laying very well

So the colonies are healthy, the queens are fruitful and the number of bees in each hive has rapidly expanded, so much so that the hives had become congested by early June so it was a given that they would try to swarm as soon as the weather improved! My black british queen was first to go – I checked the hive and didn’t spot anything (nor the queen) then came back 10 days later and bang – three fully formed capped queen cells and a fourth in the making – I attempted to carry out an artificial swarm but this was hampered by a sudden downfall of rain and despite going through the hive three times I just couldn’t find that elusive queen so had to assume she had already gone, which kind of defeats the object of an artificial swarm so I moved the whole original hive back into its original location and have now left it to its own devices. The first visual swarm recorded at the apiary this year, and collected by my bee buddy Paul, was likely to have been the first of these virgin queens leaving with a cast or secondary swarm.

Queen in a queen clip

Queen (marked white on left) visible in a queen clip during artificial swarm

Last Friday I checked my  second hive and sure enough my second generation buckfast queen had also been busy with three queen cells formed with eggs laid in them, although quite early in the process I decided to carry out another artificial swarm on the hive but again I struggled to find the queen.

On my last inspection this queen was large and plump and easy to spot due to having been marked earlier in the season. Finally I found her, slimmed down as the bees prepare her for swarming and flight, I popped her into a ‘queen clip’ designed to hold the queen due to her greater size but allowing free movement of smaller worker bees, anyway she walked straight out so it definitely wasn’t my imagination that she was slimmed down! Once she was found again, the artificial swarm was a textbook exercise and I left the queen with three frames of brood and food and a few workers on drawn comb as all the returning workers flying that day will join her, along with those that fly from the daughter hive the following day.

Now its a case of sitting back and counting the days until I check the hives to see how the new and old queens are  getting on and also keeping an eye out for the occasional swarm from Paul’s Warre hives.

Hives after artificial swarm - one has all 'non-flying workers', brood and honey, the other the artificial swarm

Hives after artificial swarm – the nearest one has all ‘non-flying workers’, brood and honey, the next nearest to the right houses the artificial swarm

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog,  feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions or general feedback, click on the right column to subscribe and receive updates when I next have the time between chasing the bees to write again.

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

N.B. clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window.

Bees on veil during an artificial swarm

Bees on my veil during an artificial swarm, people often ask if it bothers me – flying stinging insects all around my face – the answer is NO until they find a way in – always buy a good bee suit!