What I wasn’t expecting to find was a large occupied queen cell…
I removed it and had a look through my frames – there are some eggs and very young larvae, but it is patchy and not a great deal of it. I have added a couple of frames a beautiful looking brood from another hive (after a shook swarm) and we’ll see if that makes a difference. Guinevere (for that is the name of my queen) was looking pretty perky and moving about quite happily. I have sprayed the frames with Nosevit for Nosema and put on a light sugar feed, also containing Nosevit. Not much else I can do for now…
But then I helped with a shook swarm, which was really interesting. I have only watched one on YouTube before and it all looked rather chaotic and a tad scary. But it was great. Learning from someone who is so experienced and organised makes such a difference. You start with a good strong hive – lots of bees, brood and stores and you end up with a completely fresh hive – full of bees and undrawn foundation.It looks like such a drastic thing to do – but apparently they will have drawn lots of comb by the following week and the queen will be laying again.
We couldn’t actually find the (unmarked) queen, but just hoped she had gone along with all the other bees. The photo below shows what the hive looked like before adding some feed. They all disappeared back inside very quickly.
The following week, before doing a shook swarm on another hive we quickly checked this one to see that it was all going to plan. But it wasn’t. Not much comb drawn out and NO EGGS! The queen obviously hadn’t gone in. But all the bees were still there. We took the hive apart and underneath the floor there was a large cluster of bees and there she was.
Back to my hive. This really isn’t looking good at all. I was concerned about the queen cell. But its worse now and I will just leave it to its own devices. No queen, no eggs, a few young larvae. The lovely brood that should have all hatched out by now hasn’t. In fact some of the bees have developed but only half emerged. It may be that there aren’t enough bees to keep it all warm enough. But there were five occupied emergency queen cells. All occupied. So I closed it up, crossed my fingers, and left it well alone. The reality is that I don’t think it will survive for one moment. The weather this week has been dreadful.
But not long until I collect my new nuc. Lets hope this is more successful.
I have taken advice and reduced my colony down to a nuc.
I was quite worried about doing this on my own, so before I set off I sat down quietly and worked out exactly what I needed to do and in what order. Also, what equipment I needed. Then I wrote myself a little check list… which was a good move as it made me feel much more confident once I started moving bees about. Mind you, I still had to go back home as soon as I got there as I found I had forgotten my hive tool!!
I think I should have put the nuc into position before starting to move the frames over – but this was a bit difficult on my own, so I moved the nuc back into position once I had finished. Firstly I found Guinevere, my little queen, and moved that frame, then I moved all frames which contained brood. But there was very little and it was quite patchy – but there were some eggs and young larvae. I also included a frame of stores and some pollen. I then shook all the other bees into the nuc – there seemed to be bees everywhere – but I stayed calm, closed it up and moved it into position.
Once this was done I treated them with Apiguard – just half a tub so as not to overdose them – and put in place a homemade ‘Apiguard eke’. Then I fed with a sugar solution (pint to pound), closed them up and crossed my fingers.
This weekend some of the other beekeepers will be doing shook swarms on their stronger colonies, so the plan is to introduce some brood and young bees into my nuc and see if that might help.
It looks so sad now. And if I am honest I don’t hold out much hope. In fact, feeling a bit gloomy, I went home and ordered an over-wintered nuc … just in case.
Two very good bits of advice I was given recently:
1. Know what you are going to do before you go to do it
2. ‘Look’ don’t ‘see’.
… and my bit of advice:
If you are unsure about something, take a bit of time, plan ahead and write yourself a plan of action.
We’re just back from a week in France – and I think their beehives are much more fun that ours. I was tempted to get some paint but it was a bit out of our way – and it probably wouldn’t work alongside all the other hives, so …
Back to my brown hive, and Sunday was my first inspection of the year. I was so excited! But sadly, my little bees are not doing very well at all. Despite being treated with Apistan strips in September and Oxalic acid in December, varroa has got the better of them and they are suffering from withered wing and there is very little brood. I did see Guinevere and she looked pretty active which was encouraging. I’m going to have to do something about it, but I am not all that optimistic if I’m honest with myself.