Friday, 7 July 2017

Andrews Open Apiary. (01/07/17)

After some poor weather for this time of year things improved enough for us to look through the hives during last Saturday's open apiary (01/07/17) at Sunnyside Smallholding (facebook page @sunnysidesmallholding).
Andrews three colonies were all very different; a recently housed swarm that had already drawn out a lot of comb and filled with nectar but no sign of the queen laying yet, a small colony that seemed to be struggling and maybe needed feeding and a 'normal' colony with brood and nearly two supers of honey. Hopefully this was a useful mix for the new beekeepers to see first hand. Prize goes to Tracey for spotting a queen - well done.

I would like to thank Tracey (our newest member) for sharing her photos.

Thanks also go to Andrew for hosting, please check out his facebook page (link above) for some great info on his small holding and how he goes about getting things done. He also sells great tasting pork!!

Andrew has wooden standard
national hives.

The first peek into
the hive.
The bees were very well

All looked busy...
and very healthy.

Bees on honeycomb.

It's a little like 'Where's Wally?'
when you go into a brood box.

But always an honour to
meet the queen.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Queen Rearing by Stewart

So today I've started the first stage of Queen rearing with one of my colonies. For those of you who came to my talk in October, my method is a little rougher round the edges than what you read in the books but basically it's a similar principle, just a bit quicker and a bit less faff....

Basically you need to make a colony make queen cells from eggs and one day old larvae.

To do this I've used two colonies, firstly a donor hive and secondly the queen cell builder hive.

From the donor hive I cut out some cells from a frame of brood containing eggs and day old larvae. The cell builder hive needs to be Queen less and strong, you would normally just take the Queen out for a week or so and pop her in a mini nuc but in this case I've had a very mysterious and unexplained disappearance of one of my queens and the colony is relatively strong so I've used them. It's important to remove ALL emergency queen cells that they may have made and so now they are hopeless and unable to raise a queen.

I then take the eggs and larvae from the donor hive and put them into a specially prepared frame that goes into the queenless cell builder hive who will then build these out and raise queens from them.

The important thing is that I stick these cells on the bottom of the top bar of the frame pointing downwards in the correct orientation for a queen cell so they can build a proper queen cell rather than an emergency cell as these are always small and therefore produce poor queens.

 Some people use an empty frame for this but I used an old frame full of pollen and just cut out a slot in the wax at the top and halfway down, I think the bees use quite a bit of pollen to make the Royal Jelly so I figured if they had plenty of pollen next to the queen cells it wouldn't be a bad thing.

The photo sequence shows this stage from beginning to end.

Cut slot in old frame

Non standard bee equipment - kitchen knife

Frame ready with two slots

Donor hive

 Frame with eggs and day old larvae in donor hive

 Frame with eggs and day old larvae in donor hive

Cut eggs and larvae out of donor hive

Eggs and larvae

Eggs and larvae
Put frame back in donor hive
Put frame back in donor hive

Retreat to kitchen to stick cells into prepared frame

Melt wax to enable cells to be stuck in

Stick cells in correct orientation for queen cells

Stick cells in correct orientation for queen cells

More stuck in

Go to queen cell builder hive make room for frame
with queen cell and remove any emergency cells

Frame with eggs and larvae goes into cell builder hive

Shut them up

All back together - fingers crossed

Basically I used a lighter to melt the wax on the frame with pollen and just roughly stuck the cells taken from the donor hive onto it.

In theory they should now raise queen cells from these donor eggs and larvae, we'll see if they obey the rules when I check them in a week.

Thanks Stewart for sharing your method of queen rearing with us. If anyone has any questions for Stewart then feel free to ask in the comments section and if anyone else has anything they would like to share on the blog with us then I would love to hear from you....remember you don't have to be a bee-keeper or a member of Grantham just has to have some of bees going about their business, People's bee friendly gardens....any of the solitary or bumble bees/houses would be great too.