Monday, October 24, 2011

Managing (aka annoying) bees

On Wednesday 5 October, Barbara came and checked my hive for AFB and the hive was so healthy, I thought that starting another hive from mine would be a possibility. It was coming up to the weekend when I could by a quality virgin queen from the Lorimers. However, I decided against that as I knew that most of all I needed to move my hive. When I first got them I was concerned to give them as much protection from our cold winds as possible. However the spot I chose, right on the edge of the bush, didn't receive enough sun. It was also awkward to work. So as soon as there was a warmish evening, Mac and I, with great difficulty, moved the hive into the orchard, where they get much more sun.

What I did was totally against the 'rules' but I had been told of a couple of people who had moved hives a short distance by piling a heap of twigs, brush etc. in front of the hive so the bees were made to re-orientate.  I don't think I put enough on the pile, and what seemed to be an awful lot of bees flew back to the old site over the next couple of days. I feared I had ruined the colony, and left them alone until yesterday, when Mac and I had a look through the hive. It was full to overflowing! There were swarm queen cells on the bottoms of many of the frames, plus 3 succession cells on the faces of frames. I removed a lot of cells before I realised that I could still make a new hive from a nuc of this lovely strong hive. I went and rang Barbara.

Today Barbara came over and we removed almost all of the remaining queen cells. We put one frame of brood with a good queen cell on it, two more of brood and pollen and two of honey into a box (the grey box above), having shaken all the bees into the original box to ensure we hadn't accidentally taken the queen, and put it on top of the queen excluder on the hive. We put another queen excluder on top, and then replaced the honey super.

The bees weren't all that chuffed about the whole business.
In the late afternoon Barbara returned and we moved the 5 frames plus, the nurse bees that had moved up to look after the brood, into the small nucleus hive.
Again, the bees weren't totally happy at the disruption, but they settled down quickly. Now to wait and see if the whole thing worked.

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