Monday, 27 June 2016

Will they or won't they?

Shortly after lunch I managed to tear myself away from the horse shit I am employed to wade through.*

I put on my bee suit, lit a smoker and wandered out to inspect the hive ...

... I started at the top and lifted off the first Super. It felt a little lighter than last week and that may have been down to poor weather and the bees making use of their stores. There was nothing of great concern to see, so I moved to the next Super. This was the one that was added a fortnight ago.

The frames in the Super looked almost exactly like they had last week; the foundation had been partially drawn but no stores of nectar or pollen had been added. I moved the most recently added Super to one side and dived in to the Brood Box

Once again the brood box was absolutely rammed with bees and I thought I was going to have no chance of spotting the Queen. I made a start on examining the frames, taking care to watch for eggs and young larvae. Two or three frames in I spotted something very different ...

... a Queen cell with a developing larvae. Prior to this point I had only seen queen cups that had not yet been laid in, but here was a fully constructed Queen cell. I removed the cell and continued my inspection. I eventually located the Queen, but I also found three or four other Queen cells.

The massed bees and Queen cells are all signs of a colony that is preparing to swarm. This would not be good as my Queen could well disappear, taking a good proportion of the workers and probably manage to piss off my neighbours as well. Adding Supers has had no impact on the colony so I needed an alternative.

Since the bees had not availed themselves of the additional space provided by the new Super, I decided to encourage them by moving the Queen Excluder further up the hive. This would allow the Queen and the workers up in to the extra space and, perhaps, reduce their swarming urge.

I may not have described the reconfiguration particularly well so, hopefully, this diagram will help.
Apparently young, prolific Queens can need the additional laying space made available by moving to a brood and half. I can always add further Supers, if necessary later on. At the moment I just want to keep my bees content in their hive rather than buzzing off down the road.

I had a chat with the people that supplied my Nucleus colony and apparently I have taken appropriate action, but I may need to perform a "split" and create a daughter colony if the extra space of a "brood and a half" hasn't deterred them from producing Queen cells.
* Revisiting costs that were assembled and priced in November last year because "the customer doesn't like them" ... I don't like paying £1.11 per litre for diesel but an argument on the forecourt doesn't change the costs or the price!

I also started to get under the covers of a new service that is needed and it is starting to look like I have been fed bullshit from day one. I was advised that I just needed to collate existing elements and add a little support where needed ... It is now starting to sound like it needs to be built from scratch ... Oh Joy!

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