Sunday, June 24, 2012

Waiting for the nectar flow

Well all is ready. I have made spare honey supers, put on honey supers to my hived colonies, all we need now is some better weather.

I checked over my Nuc colonies yesterday. I still have 4 nucs that are taking their time to re queen.
In the ones that had produced queen cells 3 weeks ago have now torn down the cells and the hive,comb is now back in to a more organized pattern, with the random pollen and nectar storage in the middle of the frames being re directed to the upper and side areas , thus preparing  areas for the queen to start laying in to.
I can only assume that the queens in question are either finishing their mating flights ( due to terrible weather last week) or growing and developing in to queens before starting to  lay.
The two swarms I had at my apiary have also started laying which I am very pleased about. They were two reasonably sized colonies that I pictured in my previous blogs. One was definitely queen less so I gave it some eggs, 2 days after it swarmed as they had prepared queen cells on fresh drawn up wax sheets. They became very protective last week which is always a good sign that they are guarding something. Sure enough a queen that I didnt see has been laying in a nice uniform pattern so I have left them well alone to get on with being bees. Incidentially they have become very well behaved.
The second of my two hives that swarmed, I gave them eggs last week as there was still no eggs being produced but to my relief when I had a little look yesterday  a queen has also started laying and no attempt to make a queen had ben made. It proves that queen was there but just not ready to start to lay at the time.
She must have also taken her time to mate in the poor weather we have had since mid April.

Big swarm update

I also had a look at the swarm I featured in my last post "Big Swarm", amazingly they have just drawn up the last 2 frames and now the queen has laid in to about 5 frames on both sides.  Its incredible just what a really big swarm with a very strong queen can do in just under 2 weeks. I have cheekily put on a honey super, perhaps I should have waited another week but there is a queen barrier between the super and the hive body as I am sure she would have been there laying in to the honey super. Just have to see  how things progress . over the next 4 weeks.

Another queenless hive

Well beekeeping would`nt be normal if you did`nt have a queenless colonie just before the peak nectar flow starts. It was one of my best hives. There was a hollow noise on smoking this suspiciously under active hive and immediately you could tell it had been queen less for at least 2 weeks. However on the plus side they had made at least 1 queen cell which I found hiding in the corner of what was the main brood frames so hopefully all is not lost.
I expect that hive to be re queened in about 2 weeks looking at its current state. That what beekeeping is about! especially with non selected queens from feral clonies.

Thats one reason for keeping at least 2 hives going . You always have a source of eggs and bees if one colony goes belly up.

Queen hunting
Another thing I must really advocate is that of not trying to find the queen unless you are sure there is a problem in the hive. Once you have honey supers on in the main nectar flow don`t bother to tear all the frames apart  in that ritualistic hunt for the queen and her eggs.
If you see a hive that is not very active compared to the others have a look over different times of the day.
I have experienced for instance that some colonies gather pollen and nectar at different times of the day and in vastly different quantities.
If you have a hive that is queen less then you will see a noticeable difference in its behaviour. Compare it to the other colonies and then have a look inside but start from the outside and slowly work. If you find eggs then fine, just check there`s one egg to each cell then you haven`t got a laying worker or too. |Leave them alone and all should recover. If you find a queen cell then back pedal and leave well alone for at least 2 weeks.
If you find no eggs and empty frames of brood and scattered pollen and honey then you have been queenless for a couple of weeks. Immediately add a frame of eggs, less than 3 days old from another colony. That should do the trick, but be sure that the colony has a good number of bees left in the colony as otherwise there may be no point in continuing. Just treat it as a loss and keep the frames to put in your traps next year.
If after that you still have no queen then you can either let the bees die naturally, or reunite them with a queen right colony. This does work well and I will do a post and hopefully a video in it as well. Its used up all sorts of problem hives you may have at the end of the season and providing you have one good queen out of the 2 or 3 colonies you very quickly have a good colony, capable of recovering before overwintering.

Lets hope that when the chestnut trees finally come in to flower we have some hot weather. They are about 2 weeks later this year.

Good Nectar Flow!


  1. Your year is backward to ours. We had a ridiculously mild winter and everything started blooming 2 to 4 weeks earlier than years before.

    Someone commented in the BioBees forums ( recently that a way to tell whether your hive is happy without invading their space is to knock on the side. You will get a swelling of the hum and then, if they are queen right, they will settle right back down. If she is missing, they will stay irritated.

  2. That's very interesting , thanks. It does make sense. I try it outnext time. Thanks for your comments.