2 June 2012
As most of the feed had been taken at the last inspection we put a block of ambrosia on during the week and now virtually all the frames have been drawn out with many, many, fat grubs on the new frames, proving that the queen is still present. We spotted her on the middle frame, about twice the size of the workers and nutbrown in colour. I thought she looked a bit weird but found some pictures of the same type of queen on the internet, so happy.
About half the frames in the super were drawn out but no honey as yet. Lots of honey in the brood chamber and some capped. Bees coming back to the hive with yellow and red pollen. Two fields of rape seed oil one field away, which was good to see. Perhaps we can learn to ignore the hayfever we both get from it, if it means we have a good hive and the honey should, of course, help with the hayfever.
10 June 2012
Unexpectedly sunny day giving the amount of rain we have had. High level of activity at the hive. Queen spotted on the outermost frame next to the dummy board and the outermost frames now virtually full of capped brood.
The super is now getting very heavy. There is still some undrawn comb so they have plenty of space left to expand into. No capped honey in the super yet. The ambrosia is about half eaten so we left it on. Left it on, after dropping it on the floor with lots of bees still on it! They were not happy but we did apologise.
17 June 2012
Yay, queen spotted again. Some capped honey in the super now, but not a lot. We removed some brood cells hanging over the bottom of the frames. We checked the varroa floor, as we have at each inspection and thought we could see some varroa but weren't absolutely sure. Sometimes being a newbie is very frustrating.
The ambrosia was now finished, so we put a small sugar feeder on as the weather has been appalling, with lots and lots of rain. You may wonder how we knew to get a sugar feeder ready. We have a glass crown board which lets us remove the lid during the week without disturbing the bees and gives us a good idea of how things are in the hive.
Back in the house and out came the books (Guide to Bees and Honey, Ted Hooper MBE; Bees at the bottom of the garden, Alan Campion and Gay Hodgson) and leaflets we were given on the course at Thornes, produced by Fera, the most useful of which was Managing Varroa. They said if you weren't sure about disease you could take some cells off and inspect them. As we had removed some brood cells overlapping the frame, I went out to the shed and took some cells apart. Yeuch, what a job. It did, however, confirm presence of varroa, so another lesson learnt and we can now recognise them and measure how many there are on the varroa floor.
30 June 2012
The rain, ever present this year, started before we finished inspecting the brood chamber which was disappointing as we had to rush everything. We didn't see the queen this time but still plenty of grubs which there should be, with us spotting her on the 17th. However, we now had queen cells which was very disconcerting. We removed a few of them but daren't take them all off in case we didn't have a queen any more. We put some Apiguard strips in to reduce the number of varroa. Apparently, you can't get rid of them altogether but need to reduce the number so that the hive is healthy enough to get through the winter.
All the syrup had been taken so we removed the feeder and installed a second super. Inspecting through the glass crown board later in the week showed they had moved into the second super and were drawing the frames out but by the end of the week they had almost abandoned it. Nervously waiting for good weather so that we can inspect again.
Now feeling really nervous as fairly certain there will be a swarm. There are so many views on what you should do when you see queen cells, remove them all and install a mated queen, leave all but a couple of cells and let nature take its course. Whatever you choose, the waiting time to the next inspection is not easy.