Hello there , thankyou for reading this months Blog. Above you can see Mike, a trainee beekeeper at the apiary last week, helping me out. We were doing our first inspections of the year and searching for elusive Queens!
I used to think that one of the biggest challenges for a beekeeper was lighting the smoker, along with tending to bee’s without being stung. 🤣🤣 ( This is highly improbable if you have more than 6 hives) After the start of this season though, I have reassessed my point of view.
The biggest challenge is finding a Queen in your hive. The more hives you have, the more bee’s you inspect, the harder it is due to the numbers involved and the elusiveness of this creature. After two days of searching over 88 frames of brood we failed to spot a single queen.
The first reason for this is that my queens are unmarked, I have chosen not to mark queens because I haven’t touched any of my queens since they were put into my hives ( for a less interventionalist approach), but I will have to change this policy because of the trials and tribulations of my first two spring days in the apiary, where the wind was light and the temperature around 15 degrees. Having spent several frustrating days searching hives for unmarked queens, after all my years of beekeeping without marking them, I am going to mark all my new queens from now on.
This week I have invested in a marker pen to mark my Queens. This is simply to save time, and to make finding them a lot easier. I have 5 unmarked queens to find in my hives, because I’ve taken lots of orders for bee’s so these bees have to be boxed up along with the queen and sent out to customers over the next few weeks.
This year I am queen rearing, one of the procedures is to find the queen and isolate her from her brood. With this in mind, if you fail to find your queens you are not going to successfully use the Miller method to raise a series of queen cells . Its important for you as a beekeeper to be able to find the Queen.
Here is a queen colour marking chart, kindly produced by the Long Island Beekeepers society. Thanks for making such a wonderful piece of clear artwork. As you can see, depending on the year the Queen was born a colour is allocated to her. This years queens will all be marked Red, because the year is 2023. The year ends with a 3.
It is so true that every beekeeping year is different , and this year proves that. Its May, and I have already put many extra supers on and some of my hives are full of framed honey and the year has barely begun. I actually have on average two supers per hive, the first supers already full of honey, so in terms of honey production this year is certainly going to be productive. Last May I lost three swarms and split 4 hives in May, and my honey production was thus affected . I certainly don’t remember having full supers of honey on the first of May last year!
As a result of selling bee's and taking bees from the hives, it puts my honey production back 5 weeks, as that is how long the split colonies will take to requeen those hives. All my new queens will be found and marked this year with the colour red.
The Miller Method
The Miller method is the easiest method of encouraging the bee’s to create many new queen cells in one hive, that hopefully will hatch and become productive placid colonies.
The below picture shows the Miller Method is used when rearing queen cells. This picture shows how you cut a frame with inverted pyramid shapes, and where the new queen cells ( the bulges in the picture ) are produced by the brood on the frame that you are using to raise Queen cells ( which takes 16 days) . I give instruction on how to use the Miller Method on my advanced courses and use this method myself. You will get an update next month as to how successful it has been this year.
I hope you found this read enjoyable, and if you are one of the many customers awaiting bee deliveries from me, the bees are all going to be posted out over the next ten days. The Coronation Bank holiday postage has delayed their distribution as I am trying guarantee next day delivery which has not been possible over the last two weeks.
Don't forget there are still spaces on 3/4th June Bee keeping course held in Leicester, that you can secure by contacting me by phone or email.