Early April inspection update (2017)

Spring has sprung, the weather has started to become reliably warmer and it seems as if we’re free of frosts in Southern England for 2017.  You never can tell, of course, but we’ve already had temperatures of 20C+ and the nights are comfortably 5C+.

My update on the troublesome ‘brood in the wrong place’ hive is here, and to log the rest of the hives we’ll run through them here.

The Flow Hive in my garden apiary is starting to come to life. Bees are hatching, brood is growing and now comfortably on 4 frames. They’re not yet touching the super that I placed there as a brood and 1/2 setup, so I’ve fed with sugar syrup to kick start them a little. They seem really well behaved and calm – certainly my calmest colony and if I can get them to build up some more I’ll be looking to use these guys as a queen rearing colony in future. That, of course, depends on them being able to build fast and show me they can perform. They have competition now as at least two of my out apiary colonies are massively outperforming them.

In the Windlesham apiary, N3 now has brood on 7 frames, and N4 on 6. These guys are building rapidly and already have two supers on them! N3 is filling the second super and N4 looks about to start!  These hives are so busy at the moment that I’ve still not had sight of the queens. No need to worry though as they are definitely both queen right – fantastic brood patterns and visible eggs in both hives. Big thumbs up to Q4 and Q5 !

I’ve added an eke to N4 to convert them to 14 x 12 ( bigger brood box for a larger colony).  As with N1 in the Garden apiary, about half of the frames (in this case, everything without brood on it) has been replaced with 14 x 12 frames giving them plenty of space to build and fresh foundation to work with.  They’re a little aggressive, but it was starting to cool and most of the flyers were home so it may just be a consequence of that. (Wait and see again – no reason to worry too much).

N2, however is looking slow to get moving. Q3 has expanded from 3 to 4 frames of brood, but barely.  I have been able to mark her though.  Not knowing the exact ages of these queens I’ll be marking them all green for now with the intent of replacing them before green gets confusing in 2019.  For now, green just identifies them as queens purchased with colonies in 2017  (I  know it’s not best practice, but I can’t see it causing challenges at the moment).  I’m a little worried about these guys to be honest, but there are no obvious issues other than slower build up so I’ll just keep an eye for now.

I’ve put a bait hive in Windlesham as well, with some slumgum from melting down old comb as swarm attractant. Who knows, I may be able to expand by picking up feral swarms.  Fingers crossed.

 

Naming hives, apiaries and queens

At the beginning of 2017 I have five hives.  Two in the garden, and three at an out apiary at a local golf club. A naming convention is required so I can keep records effectively and know what’s going on with each hive. To keep it simple (at least at the beginning), it will start off with the apiaries being ‘Garden’ and ‘Windlesham’, respectively. The Flow hives will be Flow 1 and Flow 2.  The National hives will be National 1, 2, 3. The queens should probably also be tracked so good performing lineage can be taken advantage of, so from now I’ll have Q1,2,3 etc.  The current queens are in hives, but the naming will not be linked to hives.   That leaves us with.

Garden – Flow 1 – Q1

Garden – National 1 – Q2

Windlesham – National 2 – Q3

Windlesham – National 3 – Q4

Windlesham – National 4 – Q5

For expansion requirements I have an additional Langstroth hive which will become Flow 2, and an additional National hive. All of the National hives will be used with traditional supers, of which I have about 10. The Langstroth hives will be flow supered for the main harvest, but for anything near Oil Seed Rape (OSR) (none of mine right now), or heather (all of mine right now), the Flow supers will be replaced with regular supers to avoid complications with thick set honey.

Hive records will be kept with each hive, and additional notes will be made here.