Thursday, 28 April 2016

Nowt but Drones!!!

So I mentioned in my first inspection write up that the hive probably had a problem.

Anyway last week I got a chance on a warmer day to have a really good look through the hive and my first fears were confirmed.

I inspected each frame several times and could find no evidence of the Queen. Weirdly the bees are very calm and still bringing in both pollen and nectar but then again there is a worker in the hive that is laying so they probably think everything is right with the hive.

Drone comb
Not a very good 'laying'
pattern and some of the
comb has been eaten.
In this picture you can clearly
see the drone comb only on
the left side of the frame.
In this picture you can see a newly drawn
queen cuo and an egg has been 'layed'
So that's what the inside of the hive is looking like. I know all the protocols that could be put into place with a laying worker but I wasn't banking on finding a queen cup with an egg in it. I'm wondering if this would mean that I could possibly introduce a queen cell if the hive doesn't die out before I can get my hands on one that is.

My other options are trying to plit the hive and see if I can eliminate the laying worker and merging the bees that are left with my good colony. Either which way I wil be down to one hive so if there is anyone out there wanting to re-home a colony then let me know.

On the other hand if anyone has any other ideas then I am open to suggestions.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Honey Identification By Rex Sawyer. Book Review

Honey identification by Rex Sawyer is a well Researched,
well written book which is available to purchase second
hand as no re-prints have been published. It is not cheap to purchase
however but if you are a member of L.B.K.A then you can borrow
the book from their library, check out their website for details.
Certainly not a book for the beginner bee-keeper this book
is a lot more in-depth in honey and identifying the
different aspects as you can see from the contents
page above. If however you would like to look further
into this or are looking to sitting the B.B.K.A.
modules then the book is invaluable.
With it being quite an old book the pictures are mainly
black and white which can make it a little harder
when looking for identification as colour is also a
 key factor. There may be a more modern version
available by a different author but I have not personally
looked for one yet.
So in short...a very good book with valuable content which cannot age as the content is not going to change and could be very helpful to people interest in this aspect or studying for modules.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

First 2016 Inspection....Help??

So this weekend it warmed up enough to carry out a first inspection of the year. It's always daunting opening the hive up for the first time after the winter as you never really know what to expect.

Annabel came down to do her first hive inspection too which her Mum was happy about as she was convinced on more than one occasion that the bees were dead because she could see legs through the mesh floor!!

So let's cover Annabels inspection's much easier.

So Annabel went into the winter with just the one hive on standard brood. This hive had swarmed, raised new queen which hatched but never returned from it's maiden flight so then a frame of eggs was put in from one of my hives and an emergency queen was drawn and successfully mated. Due to everything that happened the colony were quite small going into the winter so in the autumn were fed with ambrosia syrup with hive alive, given a drenching with hive alive and then as the weather got cold fondant was added in a feeder so they had plenty of food.

Although I was there for support Annabel carried out her inspection and the bees were very calm.

first hive inspection 2016
Annabels first hive
inspection 2016.
All looked well in Annabels hive, the queen was laying nicely across three frames with a healthy brood pattern and the queen was spotted. Not many stores so the fondant was left on as we are still getting some cold days...this will be replaced with some syrup if needed as the weather warms up.

So that is annabels hive in a nutshell, everything just as you want to see it at this time of year and her Mum is a lot happier knowing that all the bees aren't dead. Annabel also brought her nan to her inspection who is also suited up in the photo and found it very interesting to learn some things from Annabel about the hive.

So now onto my inspection!!

I went into the winter with two hives. Hive two was just as you would like to see everything, They had been fed and drenched the same as Annabels bees but being a stronger colony had plenty of stores so the fondant was removed. The queen is only laying on one and a half frames currently but as I am on deep brood I am not worried about this.

2016 first hive inspection
Hive 2, healthy, good brood pattern
and plenty of stores.
Unfortunately that's where the good news ends. Hive one had a disaster last year, when I did an inspection late in the season I found her queenless. It was too late in the season to raise a new queen so I merged it with a nuc. In the nuc was a very healthy and prolific laying queen so i was hoping for the best. I did the merge in the usual way and then nearing the colder weather put all the bees down into one box for the winter.

The inspection proved quite disappointing, no queen was spotted which isn't to say she's not there but my concern is that only 'drone comb' was present in the hive. Now this can mean either a drone laying queen or a laying worker. The queen was sound when the hives were merged so I don't think she is drone laying so I am wondering if the bees rejected her and a worker is now laying instead. I really need a more thorough inspection but the weather was getting windy and with it the temperature was dropping. The bees were quite calm and these are usually my nastier hive...also they are bringing pollen in which they don't usually do unless there is a queen present.

All I can do now is ponder and wait for a warm day. I don't have enough in the other hive to put in a frame of eggs and see if the bees raise a new queen as it is so early in the season. I don't know if there is a laying worker if I could merger them successful with hive two or if that could create more problems. Again I don't know if they would accept a new queen if I introduced one..ideally I need to get rid of the laying worker....but I know that is an impossible task!

It's a bit of a dilemma...any suggestions?? I'd be really happy to hear them!