Hi all, posting on my mobile mobile, whilst away in the U.K. for a few days so excuse typing errors!!
A little time to reflect and mentally catch up on things!!(and rest)
So we’re end of October and I have not posted since March , well no excuses! Other than it’s been pretty crazy!
In Summary is perhaps easier:
So, didn’t sell any Nucs this spring(for those of you who don't now Nucs are Nucleus Colonies usually made the previous summer, then overwintered on 5 to 6 frames for use the following soring summer.)
All (about 80) were used up in various ways.
To requeen colonies lost over winter, ( about 8% losses ) and obviously the rest went in to new hives to expand my stock, which has always been my main aim this year.
With out good stocks you can’t get honey ! You can’t make splits and so on, you have to
Investvand sacrifice in order to get up your numbers. You can’t make bees, honey and colonies from fresh air !!
Spring was good but not a good spring for honey. Cold nights in April meant a slow start to the nectar flow. In addition To this, nectar in hives more than 4 weeks started to crystallise even earlier due to cold nights and lack of bees to heat thé whole box. Classic signs of this were the edges of the frames crystallising first ! Although crystallisation is pretty common in spring, cold nights accelerated this problem!
So the solution was early selected harvesting and extraction before any
more crystalised. Crystallised honey in’the supers” is still better than having your Bees hanging from “the trees” due to no room in the colony, however it’s a lot of work!
As well as cold night, spring was also pretty dry and heavy spring showers didn’t materialise until nearly the end of the spring flow, which only complicated issues, in the fact that more very wet nectar arrved n the supers at a time when we were nearly ready to harvest, but half of many super frames were dripping with uncured nectar. If that got in to the rest of the honey , then this may have just have pushed up the moisture contents to above 17 percent and initiated rapid fermentation, so we had to
Be really careful!!
However I did have a spring harvest, not great but some valuable income!
So after the honey was harvested I made as many spring splits as I could. It was mid May by this time and with finally better night time temperatures I was able to make up a load of early queens.
Cell building is an Interesting process.
The trick of it all is timing and strong cell builders! Strong Cdll builders means strong queens, in large cells, fed to the max during their growth period!! I am
Not a specialist breeder, but anyone can
Make some good queen cells, as
Long as you have the good starting materials!
Here’s the link to my cell builder video.
Early mating was good this year! Plenty of nice drones around. So good results were achieved! In total I produced about 60 nucs. They went out in End of June to new apiary sites and I also sold 10 to generate some much needed turn over.
The Next Stage: Prep for the Summer Flow:
This consists mainly of checking each stock 2 or 3 times over the next 3 to 5 weeks before the start of the chestnut and bramble. Emergency re queening of colonies that either swarmed already and hadn't re queened on their own and replacing the odd few poorly performing queens.
Feeding most colonies was really a necessity. When we make spring splits you potentially weaken a colony. Subsequently you need to help that colony as usually we may have taken about a quarter or its bees and two of its brood frames. So for us here in Brittany after the second week of May, its vital that we get that colony up and running in time for the summer flow only a few weeks away.
After the spring flow subsides, the swarming stops too ( for a while). Supers are put back on colonies immediately after harvesting if they haven't been used for splits. Or if their still really strong. Its very important you manage your colony populations well. Too much space too early, can result in slow build up due to cold in the hive. Too little space and your bees are hanging from the trees before you know it, then its also likely you will loose most of your summer crop too.
Heres a little video of how I do my summer splits. In the summer splits, I replace the 3 frames removed, with 2 partitions and one foundation. this is our overwintering configuration, 7 frames n the brood nest and one for ivy flow expansion of honey (if it materialises) and also early spring foundation, before the bees
Spring splits is usually two frames from the brood nest replaced with two frames of foundation.
Obviously for all these splits you need queens. Managing the production of Nucs twice a year, with two honey crops and post harvest Mite Treatments is a complete Juggling act! but I got there in the end. It was a big learning curve for me this year.
The summer Flow
The Flow came and went In about 10 days, usually it lasts a month. We had sinking hot weather and no existing ground water . Plenty of pollen so colonies had made lots of young bees, so summer splits were good with plenty of brood and bees to use! another year for the record books.
Admitting your mistakes and learning from them is a very Big part of beekeeping. I like many have made serious mistakes and this year. I learnt that you must feed more in the summer dearth. Some of my spring nucs were so light from a late summer of no nectar at all. I did loose two colonies. School boy error and no excuses. If your colonies are strong and well fed. or at least to a point where they haven't lower numbers because of lack of food. Then their always ready to make use of a flow, whenever it materialises No matter how big or small it is!!
So going in to this winter, I purchased another 100 hives and all the equipment to put them together, but next spring I will sell 60 of the 120 nucs I have produced late summer (subject to them overwintering well). This will create much needed income to fund more syrop I will need for next year.
Ivy flow was excellent in the end the first two weeks of October we had good temperatures and the ivy dripped nectar. Hives stinking of the stuff Thank goodness!! Any colonies that hadn't made good weight usually means their were not queen right at the critical time. ts candy for them now, but the vast majority did well. heavy hives going in to the winter, free of charge. a real Bonus that we didn't have last year!!
Ive included a few photos below . ( will upload these shortly)
Most are also on Instagram as "Plenty_Of_Honey"