As the season draws to a close, it gives me a chance to undertake some final checks on the colony and perform some house keeping.
Today was a chance to mark some of this year’s queens. The queen bee is larger than the workers, but is often difficult to find amongst all her daughters. Being able to easily see her speeds up the hive inspection.
Queens are colour coded depending on the year, this helps you remember their age. For 2019 the colour is green.
A very quick inspection the other evening, showed that the swarm collected a month ago has a queen that appears to be laying well.
Since the swarm was collected, they have been creating comb to store honey and pollen in as well as provide the queen a place to lay eggs for the next generation of bees.
I have been regularly checking the new colony to ensure that they are healthy and have no visible signs of disease. There is always the chance, when collecting a swarm of bees, that they bring back a disease to the quarantine apiary such as EFB (European Foul Brood) or AFB (American Foul Brood), both of which are contagious, and notifiable to DEFRA.
The new colony is looking very healthy and the queen seems to be laying healthily producing eggs and brood (bee larvae)
On day three of collecting the swarm from Bideford, the bees have bee put into a new hive, and are now being fed with sugar syrup. At this point I would typically medicate the bees against the Varoa mite, but haven’t had the chance to do this yet.
In the picture, you can see the bees coming up from the hive below into a feeder.
The feeder is essentially a dish with a lid, that I fill with sugar syrup. The feeder sits on top of the hive in a box that I cover with the roof, so its normally in the dark inside the hive.
The sugar syrup is 1 part sugar to 1 part water and is typically fed to the bees during spring and summer to encourage the queen to lay.
In this instance I have given it to the bees to encourage them to build out comb in the hive, but also at this time of year (May/June) there may not be too much forage (flowers) around for the bees as we are on the cusp of the summer flowers coming out.
The small colony of bees collected from the plum tree have been put into a small hive (Nuc) and placed in the quarantine apiary. Here they will be treated for disease and on day 3 fed a light sugar syrup to help them build in size.
Currently I have placed the Nuc next to the hive where they will be housed.
The bees have started leaving the Nuc and familiarising themselves with the surrounding area. You can see this by their behavior. When the Nuc was first positioned and the bees let out, they would emerge from the Nuc and fly in ever increasing circles up into the sky.
This is to allow them to spot landmarks and orientate in relation to their new home.
The next step will be to feed and medicate the new colony.
Today I collected my second swarm this week from the Bideford, North Devon.
A large swarm collected yesterday in a plum tree and was still present today, so I nipped along at 12:00 and picked it up.
It’s now located in my quarantine apiary, ready to be put in a hive tomorrow.
When collecting swarms, people, often ask me: “what happens next”?
I’ve decided to write about this swarm, so that anyone who is interested can track it’s progress. Check back to my website for updates: www.ChilcottsFarm.co.uk/news/ or follow the tag #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm on Instagram.