News Item: The Season Ahead
(Category: Our bees)
Posted by sally
Sunday 15 February 2015 - 17:47:26

We usually try to get a planning session in over Winter to get ready for the season ahead and hopefully we will manage to spend some time deciding where we want to go with the bees but I'm pleased to say, by some uniting and selling or passing on swarms, that we managed to reduce our beekeeping commitment to five colonies by the end of last season. We still have three apiaries but are now closer to our ideal of having bees primarily in our garden.

A big warning here - if you are planning on taking up beekeeping, realise that you will get taken up by it in one way or another and you may need to remind yourself of what you actually want before you end up, as we did, with an excess of 30 colonies across five apiaries. Not easy to manage, even if there are two of you, when you're both working full time (and in my case working away from home during the week).

So, our starting point is this:


We still have work to do in our Apiary in the Garden. It's were we want our bees to be for the long term and we'd like to design it right for us and them. Over a couple fo years trying to clear our garden of bees whilst we sort it, and for them to keep turning up, we now have two colonies in our Garden.

Colony G1 is an older queen. We could have missed a re-queening but she is either a 2010 or 2012 queen. She has been prolific and her progeny both industrious and good-tempered.

She was the one that swarmed late May just as we were about to open our home for Dorset Art Weeks and, as the colony happily entered one of our skeps, we have left them in it, just housing it for extra protection in a WBC body.
They are pretty light so not out of the woods yet but are still going and we've just fed with some cappings (by putting a tub of cappings within the WBC but on the outside of the skep).

Colony G2 is her daughter. They've been flying well all Winter and as they seemed a little light we have given them some cappings too, by using a tub with a hole in the lid, upturned on the crown board.

The Hill
Our colony over on the Hill is doing splendidly. It's good and heavy. She's a 2013 queen on a brood-and-a-half and we left two further supers on for Winter.

Green Lane

Two colonies over at Green Lane.

GL1 is a 2011 queen and went into Winter on a two-and-a-half brood plus two supers of stores. It didn't feel as heavy as we might have expected when we checked earlier today so we'll need to keep an eye on that one. Large colonies can certainly get through a lot of stores ahead of the start of a good nectar flow. They are also in the gateway to the apiary and have a tendency to 'follow' so we'l need to be sure their temperament is right.
GL2 went into Winter on a single brood with two supers, one of which was all capped and if they haven't needed it, will be a good bonus for us in the Spring. It's been mild though so they may yet need it. This one is a swarm that joined us in 2012 so we don't know how old the queen is.

So, five interesting - and different - colonies. Much to ponder and plan for the new season and then, of course, the bees will do whatever they choose!

This news item is from Beesmith
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