Easter hols, aggressive bees and bad foundations

​​It’s Easter weekend and I’m at the end of a week off work that almost seems to have been busier than a week in work! Gardening and beekeeping jobs done, taking care of kids and driving duties (5hrs to Cornwall, yesterday- back again tomorrow) done.  

My reflections on beekeeping jobs this week are mixed. My Flow Hive is now building nicely. I probably should have fed these ladies sooner, but they’re taking feed rapidly now and expanding almost as fast. Brood on 4 frames in the brood box, and extending above the BB into the 1/2 above on 3 out of the 4.  They’re doing well.   National1 in the garden is still aggressive when entered, but seem to be a little less so when they’re left alone. They don’t seem to be cross combing under the standard frames, and are building on the 14x12s.  I’ll have to move them to the out apiary though. Immediately after if been through and closed these girls up again, my neighbour looked over the fence to offer me some young vegetable plants. The ladies didn’t like him being there right then and went for him :(. Now I owe him more honey in payment for his stings. ( To be fair though – if you look over a fence and see a fully suited up beekeeper keeping his distance, it’s probably a good bet that you should too!  ) 

National 2 was the slow grower in my out apiary and I decided to do a shook swarm there. Completely sterilised new hive kit, new frames etc, queen found and held safe while all the bees were shaken into their new home and then reunited with their queen. They were fed two days later (the two day gap giving them time to convert any possibly infected honey in their guts into wax) and are building nicely. Hopefully on my next inspection they will have built out and started brood again. Apparently, shook swarms often put egg laying into overdrive and build really strong colonies, at the same time as removing any potential build up of disease in the comb. (The comb was pretty much all old and nasty so was thrown away bar a couple of frames that I’ll melt down for wax). 

National 3 is building nicely. Nothing major to report there. 

National 4 is building cross comb and sticking frames together all through 😞. This is a problem. Partly due to me replacing part, but not all of he frames with 14×12 and giving them gaps to fill. What’s surprising is how much comb they’ve built in all the wrong places.  An extra problem is the pre built frames I got from bee-equipment.co.uk. The foundation is mounted really loosely and is falling out! This has contributed to frames being stuck together and I’ve asked for their advice on how to proceed. (No response yet). New foundation has been ordered just in case. I’ll need it eventually anyway. 

These girls are also aggressive. (Maybe because their home is falling apart?). They don’t like smoke much either. While I was lighting the smoker 12ft away from the back of he hive, 3 or 4 of the girls starting buzzing me and one for me right in the forehead before I managed to get my bee veil up. (Note to self – light smoker further away and ALWAYS wear a veil when approaching).  

Queen rearing kit has been acquired. Report to follow. At least 2 of these National hives will be requeened.  Possibly all of them.  

For now I’m enjoying my weekend in Cornwall and thanking my lucky stars my bee sting hasn’t made my face swell for my hols.    

Back soon. 😎

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