It's very quiet at the apiary
It’s been a fortnight since my last hive inspections and the last successful course I delivered from my apiary, getting great feedback from the enthusiatic course attendee’s.
The weather over the last ten days has been poor which means the bee’s do not wish to leave their hives. They have been left to their own devices, but I did a quick check of a couple of hives this morning to see why things were so quiet.
In the hive that had been split a fortnight ago, all the bee’s only around 300 in that hive were clustered. They had no Queen, neither were there any signs of cell activity. They had been moved into a new hive, without any drawn comb, so since the time of their introduction to their new home, they had to be busy building comb. This is hard work for a new colony without a queen. They have to find food, survive and learn everything without a queen. Having discovered only one frame having significant comb progress, I decided to give this new young colony a feeder with fondant to help them out.
My job today it to find a new Queen for them, but a virgin Queen has to be mated before introducing them to a new hive. Rearing a Queen from scratch takes two months and the colony simply doesn’t have two months, they wont surive that long without a new Queen to breed and build the brood. So today I have ordered a new Queen, she will arrive within 48 hours and be introduced to the only Queenless brood I currently have. This situation came about by natural expansion in one hive, without swarming activity this year which has been managed carefully to ensure it didnt happen. I am going for brood expansion and development of colonies this year rather than honey production. Sorry folks - if you were anticipating buying summer fresh natural honey stocks from me- you will be disappointed as there will be only a few jars of honey for sale this summer.
This colony, when up to strength will be given to one of my new beekeepers, but the colony will have to have covered at least 4 frames to make themselves a viable colony that will expand and survive the forthcoming winter. Today the bee’s were all huddled together in one corner of the hive indicating they were keeping warm and a sign that they didn’t want to forage for whatever reason – I put it down to the weather.
When they have been given a Queen I’m sure the behaviour in this hive will be far more productive. Read my next blog for an update and full hive inspection reports.