Friday, July 12, 2013

Large summer swarm.

With the weather now settling in to something resembling a decent period of weather the swarms are now coming. A little late but never the less and also timed in accordance with the now bountiful food supply.

I got a call this afternoon for a swarm in languenan, very close to my village and luckily was ready to go and collect it. The weather was absolutly pefect, sunny and hot with not much wind.
The bees were extremly docile and to be honest i dont think i would have needed my smock, but never should you assume they will always be like that!

I shook the bees in to the top of the nuc, which fortunatelycontainey a frame of honey from an artificial swarm that hadnt made a queen this spring s they were straight on to that and happy to go straight in!

Once I saw they had started fanning i left the lid off for a while, then moved them slightly swat and put the nuc on the lid of the box to elevate the hive a little.

You can see they are really puoring in in this last short clip. I actually went back home and collected aother 10 framed hive as the swarm was big and they can take the karger hive straight away. On one week they will have drawn up all remaining 9 frames. Swarms are monster comb builders so i will feed them a little too, eventhough there is loads of food around at the moment. It gives them something to do at night!

 I just love being  a beekeeper when the weather is like this!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Swarm arrives at trap on beautiful sunny morning

Well, you may have seen my last post , showing a cat guarding my swarm trap.

So about 2 weeks later, this happened one sunny fine beautiful morning.!
Loads of Scout bees for the two days  before, so many i fact that I thought there was already a swarm in the trap, so upon inspection the evening before i realised there was nothing in the trap so i just withdrew and added a little more lemon grass oil to the front of the trap.
This was a very good sized swarm, the best this year. they all have been small so far due to the terrible early spring weather, so thats why we are only seeing some beter sized swarms now.
If you watch all three short videos you will see how quickly they entered the swarm trap.
Incidentially, this one had lemon grass oil inside, but it wasnt that strongly baited and only recently did it have lemon grass on the front (about 2 weeks previously) and no, if its fresh it dosent seem t put them off. ( that questioned worried me)
I was pretty sure a swarm was coming so i was interested to see if there was any other activity at the trap of a fellow beekeepers, some 5oo meters away. There was a couple of bees at the trap, checking it out, but nothing like the 20 or 30 that were around mine, so this time luckily, mine was the mst favoured. I think also that the trap was the best proximity to the nest of bees. Ie it was their prefered distance to swarm to.
Moving the swarm.
So this is the big question, how long after the bees have swarmed, is it still safe to move the bees back to your apiary, if its less than 3 miles away?
Well my thoughts on this are mixed. Personally I think if you move the swarm the minute all the bees are inside and just a few fanning on the front then it will be fine, but in this case, it was less than a mile to my apiary and the bees had been coming and going from this trap for a few days and i felt they had built up a good map in their heads of the positions of their nest (the source of the swarm) and the place they swarmed too.
They arrived fairly early in the morning, and had been checking out the area all afternoon, which in my book, means getting used to their new surroundings so, it was going to have to moved to the three mile or more to ensure they didnt know where they were.
I will bring them back to my apiary after 3 days have passed and that will ensure they have forgot where they are.
Its a big swarm, they emptied the first feeder overnight after moving them and they are already on their second load of sugar. When I bring them back i will put them straight in  to a new  10 framed hive. I also put out another trap in the same place because this was evidently a prime swarm and with the weather due to stay fine for the nexw week or too theres every chance of a cast swarm!
This was a lovely experience, One i may not see again, so i am glad i managed to get some video, even if i nearly broke my leg after shinning up the drain pipe adjacent to the swarm, as my ladder wasnt handy but it was worth it! Hope you liked it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Spring in the apiary.

Well spring has sprung and apologies for not posting but it's been a very busy period.

Nice Jucy swarm Cells!

I had a few early swarms from my own bees but the weather was poor and again the nuc hives struggled to requeen due to the continuous cold temperatures.
Overall it's a positive note and it's nice to say the bees have shown how dynamic they are in the face of adversity.

How Ironic, a swarm on the back of a warning sign saying "beware bees"

So far to date I have caught 4 swarms in four swarm traps. I am hoping for a few more in the next few weeks as the bees here should still be capable of swarming in until the end of July.
The forecast is good and up until very recently we have had little or no sunshine, so it could still be a good honey harvest.
Conditions are good. The chestnut trees are coming in to flower ( three weeks late) and if the forecast does live up to its predicted trend then we should have  the potential for a lot if honey.

Heres some of the spring honey I took from two of my hives.

I will be artificially swarming all my strong hives in the latter part of July, and moving honey supers with the mother hive, so they can continue to dry and cap it all, ready for the harvest around the last week of August but that's a long way off yet.
Typically two of my strong hives have become queen less at the wrong time so they are our of production for this year. I doubt they will requeen in time!

Natural Hive rqueening can result in this problem when using  an open mesh flooring. In this case the recently mated (i hope) queen has returned to the hive, can smell it, and thinks she is back in. So the best way to deal with this is , with two of you., have another base handy. Unclip the base and lift off the hive. Your assistant then carefully lifts up the base with the swarm hanging underneath and then replaces it with the spare one. The hive is then put back on top and the swarm can then be lowered on to the top of the frames and hopefully the queen will resume her role within the hive.

Had a swarm from one of my nucs that I was feeding. It had a queen cell in it, or at least i think it was a single cell? but when I came past the other week they had swarmed on to a nearby tree and i didnt know which it had come from so I went back home to get my swarm catching box only to find on my return they had all gone back in to this Nuc. So it was a queen obviously couldnt decide if she was swarming or on a mating flight.  You can see in the pic they have all just returned with loads fanning on the front of ther hive. Lovely to see when I was there. The air was heavily scented with Nasanov.

Cracking picture of one of my queens. I mark them all with  yellow. I find it is easier to see and is supposed to last longer in the hive.

Next year I want to raise a batch of queens to try and get around this problem and by using small mating boxes I am hoping to be able to have a few, ready mated queens on standby to be inserted in to poorly laying  or queenless hives if need be. But that will be next spring before any of that will be considered. Its going to take a lot of work but it looks like a great project for next year. I will need to have a started hive packed full of bees, with the existing queen not present and then a finishing hive to finish and incubate the queen larvae if i have any! I will be posting how i do this. Theres still qite a few things i need to get sorted out prior to next spring.
I will be making my own queen cups and the grafting in to these quees cups so I will have a go at doing sme grafting before that, just to get used to using the tools. I have purchased the chinese and stainless steel grafting tools. I see they both are reccomended but everyone has a preference.

Bought some frame hangers to try. Only £7 from the uk. I think they will make life easier at the apiary. I am always having to lean frames up against the hive, on the floor and this should now get rid of that problem. They are a universal fit.

Finally , do you think this cat is waiting for a swarm too, or just being a typical cat and having an afternoon snooze in front of my swarm trap. Never a dull moment!