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The Apiary in May

Photo: Too late, they swarmed – but Queen Cells to use.

As we move away from a very wet month the spring flowers be that trees, shrubs, meadows and commercial crops such as Oil Seed Rape should produce a good flow of nectar for our bees to collect.

But only if the weather warms sufficiently for the colonies to get out. My concern is that after this long confinement more than one or two will be preparing to swarm.

If I find any sign of Queen cells with eggs or grubs in, I split the colony into two or three depending on their size, I go back ( next day) later to find the Queen  and  put her back on the original site with a comb of brood and fresh foundations.

But time to get your Bait Hives out ready to spot the “scout bees”  warning you a swarm is on its way or catch that swarm as it passes.

If they move in I leave it until that evening when they are all at home and then move them to the Apiary.

Bait Hive being occupied

When I was clearing out the Bee Shed to put more supers under the nearly full ones the bees were filling, I disturbed this European Hornet trying to escape my attentions.

She found her way out of the window to start her own colony elsewhere.

But as the month develops the swarms and casts started to appear very rapidly

Swarm on Trunk of an Oak Tree

Then they keep coming as yet another swarm leaves.

Swarm on its way out

As the price of sugar and Fondant “ skyrockets” we need to consider our winter feeding alternatives and seriously consider John Sheppards suggestion of putting a super full honey under the brood chamber as winter feed as Autumn approaches.Bit early yet.

But please ensure you sell your honey at a premium rate as the cost of feeding your colonies is going to increase dramatically.

Local Honey Prices at the Tebay Service Station on M6 North

We will of course see other insects joining our bees feeding on the abundance of nectar that is around as the end of May warms up at last.

Theses solitary bees know just when to start building their nests in these bamboo tubes as the bumble bees nests also start to expand.

Solitary Bee

Before we reach the end of May, Oil Seed Rape, Horse Chestnut and other abundant flowers will have finished flowering and those of you lucky enough to have full supers need to ensure most of the combs are capped before removal and extraction.

When putting on Clearer Boards, best do it in the evening (otherwise you may bake the bees in the heat of the day) and ensure there is an empty super underneath so the bees have somewhere to clear down into.

Keep up the regular checks on the hives looking  for Queen Cells – the swarming season is far from over.

The June Gap when there is a dearth of nectar can be a few days or a couple of weeks. Watch that any Nuc/splits you have made have plenty of stores. Feed if necessary.

But Lime trees and Brambles both good nectar producing plants  will soon be in flower .

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