For the last two weekends we’ve been running practical sessions in the Fleet Beekeepers training apiary in Rotherwick for our “NewBees”. It’s the perfect site for an apiary, right in the middle of an old Victorian apple orchard. We have room for 11 colonies arranged in a horseshoe with the entrances facing out so that we can all gather in the centre and approach each hive from the rear.
We have a mixture of wooden Langstroth, Commercial and National hives along with a number of polystyrene Langstroth Jumbo/Dadant hives. This enables our trainees to get experience with a wide range of hive types, before deciding what works best for them. With the very late start to the beekeeping year in 2013, we have only been able to get into the hives very recently and so there has been a lot of work required to get the colonies prepared for the new season.
This weekend we went through all the hives showing the trainees how to conduct a spring inspection, checking for any signs of disease or other problems, looking for the Queen or signs of her presence with freshly laid eggs as well as seeing if there are any drones (if any) around yet. All hives seemed to be OK apart from one Queenless colony, so we placed a frame with fresh eggs from another hive in this one and hopefully they should raise Queen cells.
Next time, we will start to mark and clip the Queens as well as starting Bailey comb changes on the Poly hives with brood frames that are getting on for three years old. We do this to minimise the potential build-up of disease or any pesticides that might impact the colony later in the year.