Holiday hope!

We weren’t sure what we’d fine at today’s inspection.

Before we went on holiday there were six hives, of which only two had queens. Three had nothing happening and one had multiple queen cells over various frames. We moved those frames with queen cell to the hives which had none in the hope that, while we were away, the queens would emerge, mate and start laying.

There was also the added complication of having to feed the bees before we went on holiday. The poor weather and a foraging gap, from the oil seed rape finishing and other stuff becoming available, meant that the bees were struggling for food. Four hives needed fed but I only had three feeders. Three hives were given sugar water and one was left with a cake of fondant. However, because the supers had to be removed to put the feeders on, this reduced the amount of space available should the weather and foraging improve. They couldn’t be left like that for the duration of our holiday so it was ‘call a friend’ time and fortunately, Sandy was only too happy to help. He put the supers on when the time was right.

So, did the feeding and all that queen cell swapping work?  Happily, we seem to have had some success!

Caitlin at hive 1 had a lovely new laying queen from the queen cell we added. The queen was spotted, there was larvae and eggs over 3 frames and plenty of stores.

Rebecca at hive 2, a queen was spotted, so the added queen cell worked, but there was no sign of eggs, larvae or capped brood. This could mean she’s not mated yet, not laying yet or the bad weather has prevented her from being mated and she’s now sterile. We’ll have to wait and see.

Sam at hive 3, again the queen was spotted and this was the original queen produced from the Snelgrove technique. It had 5 frames of brood and was very busy. We’d left them with a pack of fondant and it was all gone and had clearly done them well, as the hive was thriving.

Claire is hive 4 still had the lovely blue marked queen. That artificial swarm worked well.  It had 4 frames of brood and some stores.

Hope at hive 5 was the artificial swarm from Claire at hive 4 and it was the hive that all the frames with the queen cells came from. No queen was spotted and there was, AGAIN, another big capped queen cell. They must have swarmed again! This was the only hive that didn’t have a super on top so they must have felt they were low on space. We’ll just have to wait an see if the queen emerges and can get mated this late in the season. Hope is a good name for this hive!

Susan at hive 6, a queen was spotted, so the added queen cell worked, but no eggs, larvae or capped brood. It’s in a similar position as Rebecca in hive 2. There was lots of stores and we’ve just got to wait and see what happens.

We’ve now got five out of six hives with queens, three of which are laying, and one hive with a queen cell. I think we’ve come home to a more promising situation that when we left. I’m happy with that. Although, as is the nature of bees, it could be all changed by next week!

Found the apiary!

We’ve spotted two colourful apiaries on hillsides during our travels but I wanted to find where the bees from the sunflowers came from. 

Tonight we spotted the hives. They have an interesting porch extension at the entrance. Two have supers on and two don’t. I wonder why because the sunflowers seem to provide plenty foraging? Also, one of the hives has bees bearding on the outside, presumably to cool down – it was a hot one today! 

If only I had the Italian to have been able to ask some questions! 

   

Trouble at the apiary!

We inspected the hives today and things weren’t as we’d hoped for – again!

Susan 1, which I artificially swarmed the last time, didn’t look good. It must have swarmed anyway, because there were very few bees, no sign of the lovely blue marked queen and very little stores. We decided to merged it back together with Susan 2 which, although queenless, had queen cells and therefore the hope of a queen in a few weeks. We also put on a feeder with sugar water as the government Beebase website has been advising beekeepers to feed their bees and, I have to admit, they had absolutely no stores.

Claire 1, also artificially swarmed, still had the lovely blue marked queen. There was brood, larvae and stores – thank goodness! Claire 2 had queen cells but no stores so we’ve left that one to hopefully emerge and mate a queen and we put a feeder on top with sugar water to help them along.

Rebecca 2 (the split) had eggs, larvae, brood and stores. Hopefully they’ll just keep going like that.

Rebecca 1 had no brood and no queen cells but it did have stores. We took a frame with queen cells from Susan 2 and put them in this hive. Hopefully they’ll accept the new queen when she emerges.

Hive Caitlin is still queenless and getting really rather grumpy but it did have plenty of stores. Again, we took a frame with queen cells from Susan 2 and put it in here with the same hope. Only time will tell.

So,we’ve now got 6 hives. Only 2 have laying queens but 4 have queen cells so there is still hope they will recover.

We are, as I’m sure you are, getting rather confused by the naming of the hives. When we’re surrounded by bees, under pressure, trying to think what’s best to do, it’s hard to remember who is who!  I think we will move to a more traditional method of naming them i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 and put the numbers on the hives to avoid confusion.  I’ll keep you posted!

So, fingers crossed July is a kind month and any newly emerged queens can get mated and start laying.

It’s an unpredictable business this bee business!