These past four weeks have been very eventful with mistakes made and lessons learnt.
The evil colony now has a new queen. As she’s on mating flights, I’m hoping it’s successful and must wait to see what her temperament will be. However, as the egg she originated from comes from my best tempered colony, I’m hoping she’ll be fairly calm but productive. I used a Snelgrove Board to manage this, the aim being to obtain a new queen without reducing the workforce too much as the spring flow is on. I thought it was quite a clever way to bring bees into the bottom box and encourage them to raise a new queen.
I almost had a crisis with my best tempered colony two weeks ago (this colony has a lovely temperament, maintained strength over winter, is very productive and also seems to have a naturally low rate of varroa). I thought I was doing OK with the management, but then found loads of queen cells in various stages. It took me absolutely ages to find the marked and clipped queen! I was feeling like a complete failure as a beekeeper who can’t even find a marked queen! I finally found her after the fourth attempt and moved her into a Nuc. Some say leave only one capped queen cell in a hive, others say 2, 3, or 4 or more and the queens will fight it out and the strongest queen lives. Following that logic, I left four, which ended up being a mistake.
Four days later, dinner was on the table and I was literally reaching for my cutlery, when I got a text saying that my bees were swarming! I had a quick think about the items needed, packed them and dashed off to the allotment. It was a big prime swarm. I should mention that I’ve placed three bait hives on this allotment and one in the back garden of a nearby home…but did the swarm move to one of those? Of course, not…it preferred the underside of a large bird feeder in the middle of someone else’s allotment plot…while they were working on it! Thankfully, the swarm was fairly easy to collect. I had a quick peak at the swarm today and gave it more space. It’s calmed down and is looking like another good colony.
The bees have been filling supers very quickly this year. I’m noticing what a difference it makes having a few supers of drawn comb ready for them. Two of my colonies are already starting to fill their third super. Two days ago, I put clearer boards under five supers from three colonies. Honey extraction is arranged for tomorrow!