22nd April – Queen Rearing 2021
Last year’s Covid problems meant that we raised very few Queens in 2020 and used the same Queen as 2019. This year she’s showing her age, she hasn’t come through winter very well, and we’re treating her for a high varroa level.
We have chosen two different Queens for 2021, mother and daughter. Both of these Queens are lovely to handle, they move nicely over the comb, are totally disinterested in you during inspections, so you really don’t need smoke at all. Their gentle temperament means less ‘running’ and so top boxes can be replaced without accidentally squashing bees. They produce a lovely laying pattern, helped by being on relatively clean comb and, with lots of young bees new foundation will be drawn more quickly. They have the added benefit of a low Varroa count. In addition we have selected two other unrelated hives as secondary options.
We started by putting a Brood box on all 4 hives with new foundation and, because it was so cold, we fed with 1:1 syrup – a full 6 litres with sugar kindly collected by John Easton from Morrisons. Subsequent checking showed at least 3 frames of sealed stores in each hive, and with the rapid energy and heat to make wax, the foundation in all 4 hives is now drawn.
Today we have chosen the daughter as she is growing at a nice rate for Queen rearing project. We have discussed the various rearing programmes used in the past and our objectives for 2021. Our bees now are all of a good temperament. In 2019 we used the Jenter system, getting 20 plus queen cells, needed to meet the demand for both the Apiary and Members. This year our objective is 6 for nucs and 4 for Apideas so we are returning to using the Miller method. We have cut a comb into a WW shape at the bottom and placed it the 4th frame from the front of the brood box, where all the action is. We will check next week and hope that it has been laid up with Queen cells. As a backup we have installed a second WW comb in the mother hive. Lots of bees are bringing in plenty of nectar so we won’t feed.
Look at our photo from our last attempt – we will see if we can match it.
Other hives are varied. We have a couple with plenty of room in Brood for Q to lay, so supers have been added and two almost full. Other hives are bursting with bees, lovely wall to wall Brood, but no room for laying, so they have been given a double brood – at the same time the supers are filling rapidly. We have run out of frames so need more made up if anyone is free to collect? Luckily Jill brought 5 along and saved the day.
First swarm that I know of – rescued by Andy Mack today in Exmouth.