When I put on the supers earlier in the season, I was a little late and hoped that it would mean the colonies would delay any swarm ideas. I am not obsessive about swarming. Whe I did my course at MBBKA I remember the leader suggesting that he is always suspicious about people declaring they want non swarmy bees. The concept seemed to Frank as alien as seedless grapes.
I went a way for a few days after and then, whilst miles away from home, suddenly realised I had forgotten to put on any Queen excluders. Rather than do a full inspection as the bee inspector was due shortly after I returned, I put in the excluders when I got home, fully expecting the queen to be in the super and laying.
When Karen came and inspected I admitted my folly and she was thorough. The first hive showed no eggs or queen in the super and Karen observed the god of bees was smiling on me. I was pessimistic that I could be lucky a second time. In the first hive, too, there were capped queen cells. We didn’t see teh queen but Karen commented that if they had swarmed they had left a really good mass of bees behind. We removed all but 2 queen cells.
At the second hive we found the god of bees really was being kind. Again no eggs in the super and a good healthy colony. In fact both colonies looked great. Karen suggested I consider using the drone brood removal method of helping in the varroa battle. I didn’t do an oxalic treatment this year which Karen said was probably wise because information about temperatures suggested bees were still laying over winter. The monitors we have at Hughenden Manor certainly indicated a steady 35 degrees in the brood area all over winter and I am close enough to assume that a similar pattern would exist in my own hives.
For the last few years in my area there has been EFB reverberating around so I have had several visits from teh regional bee inspectors. I’d already arranged the latest visit from Karen before I had the news that there was now an outbreak of AFB locally. My heart sank but it seemed sensible to wait for karen to inspect as she knew what she was looking for much better than I. I believe some beekeepers are reluctant to register on Beebase but I cannot understand why. Every time a bee inspector comes I learn more even though I was trained and work with other beekeepers regularly. As well as information or reassurances passed on verbally, watching someone who is so expert is itself a reminder of best practice. I have developed some of my own preferences. I love the clear perspex quilts which Karen comments are good for beginners – am I still a beginner? It is 5 years since I had my first bees. I am still useless at seeing queens and just don’t feel like an expert. In most things in life, I have a sneaky feeling that the best thing is to believe you still have lots to learn. I hope it helps keep my brain in good order to carry on learning. I tend to normally have a water spray instead of a smoker though have a spray can of a dfferent product so that in the case of something untoward I have something more discouraging to hand. When I use a smoker I use some of the fuel pellets and sometimes add lavender to calm them. I try and visit the bees and just watch them at work so I hope I am reasonably in tune with what they are up to. My back is a real problem so I over winter my bees on just a single normal sized brood box rather than have the extra demands on my back. I have only lost one colony over winter – they lasted until march a winter or so back and then died. It was a year when the winter seemed to go on and on so I need to learn from that as I feel that is definitely a colony I should have saved.