My first Bee Nuc (nucleus)
Now the weather is definitely warmer, the flowers are opening and the bee colonies are growing, the need for more frequent inspections is needed. Thank you to my inner voice telling me :- ” go on check em out, if you don’t do them now it’s another week before you can and you may lose half your colonies to swarming ” and you know what, the voice was right!
I started at my three colonies we moved back in February. It was here that I had my first chance to take a nuc of bees and help a fellow bee keeper and friend strengthen a weak hive that he has in his back garden. I’ve read a lot about how to do this but this was the first time and guess what, I was nervous.
I started at 06:30 and packed every bit of spare kit I had in the Landrover just in case I needed it, you never know what you will need until you open up and take a look. I picked up Pete who had kindly agreed to help. We arrived at apiary number 3 to find all was very quiet as the sun hadn’t quite made it to the corner of the field yet and the bees were sleeping. Now this early is really the wrong time to do this due to the colony being all together and approximately 40-50 thousand bees all in one place it would be difficult for you spot anything (between midday and 4pm is best when most flying bees will be foraging) anyway we had another 13 hives to inspect this morning so something had to give.
We opened no’s 1and 2 no problems, room for the queen to lay, just need to add a super (honey box) on each so the bees can create their stores (our honey) above where the queen is laying. Number 3 on the other hand was rather more of a challenge, the super on top was fairly full and the bees are starting to cap off the honey which is great to see and my first honey crop will be fairly soon (excited or what) but it also means that the brood box ( where the queen lays her eggs) is nearly full too and there is little room for her to expand, (wow there’s lots to think about). I knew we could help by finding the queen and moving her to a new hive and making sure there are good queen cells in the old hive. We did this and there where 6 good cells. We chose to keep 2 and the other 4 where removed, one was fully capped, this one was removed with some of the comb to help Pete re-queen his weak hive (payment for helping so early, thanks Pete it’s really appreciated). Normally we would leave the old queen in a new hive near her old hive to create a new colony but this time we created my first Nuc, which is also going to my neighbour and I will let you know how his new colony gets on later in the season.
Now on to apiary no 2 – now with 9 colonies, 7 established and 2 new. Here I had to check quickly the 2 new hives and the 2 hives which I artificially swarmed to make sure all was going OK and pleasingly it was. To get through the other 5, Pete and I shared the investigations. Queen cells were found in 3 out of the 5 so we removed all of them to ensure swarming didn’t happen (at least for this week!). Wrote up notes and now need to put more supers and queen excluders on all hives