Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Yesterday in the Apiary

After yesterday’s mammoth article, we’re almost back up-to-date on everything that’s happened in the apiary in May.  However, there was a bit of work to do yesterday in each of the hives and nucs.  This, in order of inspection, is what happened:

The Brown Nuc

The queen in the brown nuc started laying two weeks ago, and everything looked good yesterday - plenty of capped and uncapped brood.  I found the queen easily, and since there wasn’t anything else to do, and the bees were nice and calm, I got out my queen-cage and marking pen, and marked her with a dot of red paint (the colour for queens that emerged in 2018).

I have also officially named her - the name will be revealed in my next article!

The Blue Nuc

This was started two weeks ago, using frames and bees from hive #1 (but no queen).  The bees had clearly been busy making new queens, as I found two open queen cells from which queens had emerged.  Normally, when two queens emerge in a small colony, they will fight to the death - the winner gets to rule the hive.

I had a good look, but couldn’t see a queen anywhere.  This could mean that they killed each other in their duel.  Or, it might be that the survivor was out on a mating flight.  Or, I need to get my eyes tested!  I will have another look next week, and hopefully will spot a new queen.

Hive #1

This hive is doing well, and there is a lot of brood.  Hardly any nectar has been added to the super that I put on last week, but that’s probably because all of the nectar that’s being collected is being used to feed the new brood.

Since there was nothing else to do, I finally(!) got round to marking queen Laura.  Because she emerged in 2017, she was marked with a yellow dot of paint.  I had my queen-cage ready, but actually didn’t need it - when I had the marking-pen in my hand, Laura was in the middle of laying an egg, which left her perfectly still with her thorax exposed.  With a steady hand, I aimed the tip of the pen, and gently tapped the middle of her thorax - and was spot on target!

Hive #2

Because of the prior Sacbrood infection in hive #2, I routinely inspect this hive last.  The bees were a little moody, but otherwise fine.

I saw an emerged queen cell, and set about looking for the queen.  After going through the brood box twice, I was all ready to give up and put the last frame back into the hive.  Then, I heard a very reassuring sound - the unmistakable tone of a queen bee piping!  After another quick scan of both sides of the frame, I spotted the new queen marching determinedly across the bottom of the comb.  Excellent news - hive #2 is almost back up and running.  I’ll leave her alone for a couple of weeks to “entertain gentlemen callers”, and then check to see if she’s laying.

So that’s us all up-to-date.  Apologies for the lack of photos recently - now that I am back into the swing of things, I’ll try to get a couple of pictures into next week’s update.

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