Right, back to trying to write up visits as they happen, now the blog is working again. And so above we have my first hive, 3 years after I became The Lucky Beekeeper when the swarm moved in. And the comb in the brood box had become so dirty, I decided to do a “Bailey Comb Change” and get the bees to move onto clean frames. Of course they had other ideas. =O(
The idea is, you give the queen a new brood box, above the old one, put the queen excluder between that and the supers, and she’ll start laying in the higher comb. I gave the colony 6 litres of sugar water to help them build on the new foundation, and left them to it for a few weeks. And what did I find when I returned? Why that the rest of the colony had loved their lovely new, big Super, and filled the top brood box with sugar and sealed it in =O(
So, the only next step is to put the few frames of brood in the lower box in place of the less full frames of food, and then do a shook swarm to get all the bees into the new box, and then take the dirty frames home.
Here you see an empty Super being used as a funnel to catch the bees I shook down onto the frames below from the old brood frames. I saw no sign of the queen, but then I never have in this hive. I’m pretty certain she didn’t return home with me in the old frames though, so I hope she’s in there. I’ll be back in a few weeks to look for signs of her. There were also a few queen cells on the frames I had to move over because of the brood, sealed and unsealed, in them. I couldn’t see any eggs, but then my eyes are getting old, and I didn’t have Lucy with me.
I then put everything back together, and left them to figure out their new home. There are 3 supers on there, and most of the brood chamber is stores now. Two of the Supers are completely sealed honey. I figure they’ll move some of the stores in the brood box up into the unused Super and use the space for laying, as long as they have a queen to lay…
Then we moved onto the third hive, as there were other people working on either side of my second.
This is the new hive Lucy and I painted up, glued together, and then moved the latest false swarm from the first colony into over the past few weeks. The feeder is now off, so all the boxes are that same lighter, olive green. They’re very strong, lots of laying going on, and they’re getting in what forage they still can, but I may have to feed them more before the end of the season. One of the frames was damaged though, so I switched in a new one from the set I’d bought for the first hive, and spilt some stored sugar water in so doing – which they quickly cleared up:
That all my bees are basically of the same stock, which has so far proven to be very hardy and productive, is something I’m very please about. But we may need to re-queen from elsewhere soon, if one of them has problems. As may well be happening with my second hive.
We’d not seen much sign of queen activity in the last visit, and this time we found a wasp high up in the Supers. We got rid of it, but there were likely others in there. We don’t know because the colony really didn’t want us there, though. I got stung nine times through my suit and gloves – both forearms, forehead, hands and shoulder. The guy helping me got a bee inside his suit that stung him in the neck. So we got away, James closed the hive for us (not having been stung, he didn’t smell of the pheromones that would cause them to attack him too) and I left shortly after.
Oh, the joys of beekeeping =O}