The season has really started with a bang! It may still still very cold at night with frosts throughout the month but the days are warm enough to give a good nectar flow from all the spring flowers including the Oil Seed Rape (OSR)
Those who do not have OSR near to their hives, the bees are finding plenty of nectar sources elsewhere including that scourge of gardeners the humble Dandelion which gives a “high quality” nectar the bees love to gather.
The Cherry trees and some apples have flowered and gone over but the Blue Bells and other woodland plants are in full bloom taking advantage of no foliage on the trees until next month.
Those of you who were late in getting your supers on, will have been taught a salutary lesson with the bees building wild comb in any gap they have above the supers. This of course never happens to experienced Apiarists who are organised and plan ahead but the mere mortals amongst us have to deal with this oversite.
All I’ve done is check the brood chamber, take out food laden stores from frames number 1 and 11 in the brood chamber and replace with foundation close to the brood. Then check there are no Queen cells about but plenty of brood grubs and eggs, Queen Excluder on plus two supers.
Then reverse the Crown Board with the wild comb on and as a result bees will take any nectar down into the supers and in a few days time I will remove comb and recycle the wax.
The brood combs full of food will be placed into a sealed Nuc ready for Queen breeding next month, and once emptied by hungry bees, recycled if not up to the required standard for reuse🤨
The key this month is to give the bees plenty of room, getting supers on and ensuring the Queen has plenty of room to breed in the Brood chamber, not ‘cramping her style’ as she comes into full lay triggered by the nectar flow.
We have already had the first swarms appearing, so time to start the weekly checks, weather permitting, to see if you can find “charged” Queen cells (meaning grubs and royal jelly in Queen cells) and plan what action you intend to take. If you have charged Queen cells they will swarm unless you take some action to remove the Queen or the brood or the flying bees.
We will all soon start to get calls about swarms around and about. My first advice is to obtain a picture to ensure it is a swarm and always phone to check it is still there before you travel.
If you don’t need the swarm please catch it and then contact Terry who is running the “Swarm Liaison Service“ again this year and we will find it a new home.
If they are your own bees and you know which hive it came out of, move that brood chamber full Queen cells to a new location, a good distance from the original site, so all the older flying bees will return to the original site.
Then hive your swarm on the original site, Queen Excluder underneath brood chamber once they settle in so they don’t abscond again, comb of brood , no Queen Cells, then another Queen Excluder and supers back on top.
You then have a few days to examine the brood chamber full of Queen cells and young bees to decide what you intend to do, split again to breed young Queens or keep one prime Queen cell (that is a big one which is sealed) and destroy the rest – or you may end up with loads of casts.
But hopefully you will not have these problems and the bees will be filling your supers with nectar ready for conversion, ripen, into honey and then capped ready for you to extract!
It is good to see the media trying to persuade folk not to mow their lawns in May to let wild flowers flourish so birds and insects can feed on or from them.
My Solitary (Aldi, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, & others) Bee house is really busy with most bamboo tubes already full and sealed. Always a pleasure to watch and the youngsters love watching the antics.
Next Month: Time to get the OSR honey off before it goes solid in the comb and Are you intending to breed your own queens and prepare Nuc’s ready for any winter losses in the 2022/23 winter. Plan ahead