News Item: Doing OK
(Category: Our bees)
Posted by David
Wednesday 07 May 2008 - 15:46:24

We haven't really kept up to date this past few days.  It was Sally's birthday so we were out quite a bit. It was also the WDBKA apiary meeting on Saturday - quite a long one - and we had the last of our Basic Beekeeping evenings.  So here is a little catch up:

Our bees are doing fine.  There seem to be pleny of bees covering the frames and they are drawing out the foundation quite rapidly now. During last week's poor weather they finally discovered the feeder and took down all the syrup we had given them.  Sally was fired up after an exciting apiary visit - and it being her birthday! - so was keen to go through the hive.  The forecast for Monday was not good so we decided to look through on Sunday afternoon even though it was getting on in the day.

Birthday BeesonWe got togged up and set the smoker going.  (I wish I had created a better wad of cardboard as it kept falling over and was difficult to keep alight. We are looking out for better fuel as we don't really trust cardboard to be very environmentally- or bee-friendly.) As it was Sally's birthday, and her turn, she was in charge.

We first had a look at the varroa board.  I had put the board in 4 days previously and we had looked at it on Friday.  As then we were delighted to discover absolutely no mites on the board.  It doesn't mean that we don't have any varroa, but it is a good indication that it is not a problem levels at the moment.

A little wisp of smoke through the entrance (our bees are so gentle they really don't need much) and off with the roof.  The top lifts wer moved aside and the pretty much empty feeder removed.  We could see through the glass quilt that they were across all the frames.  We had a couple of frames of foundation ready as we had guessed they might be ready to have some more to start work on.

It was about then that the rain started!  We decided to add the extra frames ad close up quickly.  The bees were doing OK and drawing out wax.  So retreat seemed a good idea.  

A few minutes later the rain stopped and a few minutes more brought a brighter sky and we decided to go back in and finish the job.  We went right through the colony and found the queen on the last frame.  Whilst there were a few play cups there were no queen cells.  However, perhaps because of the rain interruption, we didn't pay enough attention to really assessing each frame for eggs, larvae and sealed brood.  We know there was some - and a lot of bees - but how much of each eludes us now!  There's a lesson!

We closed up before we realised our assessment was not as informative as should be but decided not to mess any more.  Because the forecast was poor for the next few days we decided to put a little bit more syrup on to keep them at full tilt ready for any honey flow that the better weather due in a few days might bring.  

It was very helpful to discuss what we had done and fill in our records.  Apart from the lesson about planning and structuring our manipulations to ensure we cover all the vital aspects, we discussed the next actions.  The queen was actually on the same frame we found her on last week.  Whilst the new foundation was beeing drawn out and filled with nectar, the queen had not been down on them.  It seems clear now that they seem to be regarding the original 4 frames as the brood nest, which could become a problem if they feel crowded.  Perhaps we should have put the foundation on the other side nearer the queen.  We will probably move some there next visit.

So that's where we are with them.  They are flying strongly each day.  From what we can see there are some good loads of pollen going in.  It's mostly pale green or yellow.  Aparently the birch pollen is at its height today according to the weather forecast.

This news item is from Beesmith
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