Collecting a swarm – almost

Queen rearing was a bit of a disaster as the bees did not do as they were supposed. Instead, they just filled in the gaps in the foundation with drone brood. But the idea was exciting… We’ll need to attempt plan B – not sure what that is yet.

22 days on since my last post and all the brood on the shallow frames (in the bottom brood box) has emerged, bar a few drone. I have removed the empty frames and the box and shaken all the bees in together. There are still four frames which haven’t been drawn out at all – but hopefully they will get a bit of a move on  now. I will give them another feed tomorrow.

I am little concerned that Nosema could be lurking in this hive too – there are signs of dysentry on the front of the hive, but the frames inside were looking clear. I’ll take a sample of bees next weekend and test them. I find it very tricky collecting 30 bees – but practice makes it easier and I will need to be able to do this for my Basic Beekeeping Assessment (which I have just applied to take). I’ll probably fail on that bit…

But much excitement and sadness in the meantime. I decided the end was nigh and I have emptied the bees out of Guinevere’s nuc – well away from the other hives – and have cleaned it up ready for use again.

A few days ago I was told that there was a swarm that I could have if I collected it. It was in fact the second swarm to arrive on a fence in one week, so it was likely to be a caste or secondary swarm- probably with a virgin queen. It had actually been put into a cardboard box by someone else, and I just had to wrap it and put it in the boot of the car once all the bees had settled down inside. Trouble was that when I got there, there were still quite a few bees lurking on the fence.

photo 5

I had a bit of difficulty getting them from fence to box – and I was quite glad there was no-one watching as text book it was not!!! But no matter, in the end they were nearly all inside, so I secured it and headed off home. As it was beginning to rain I decided not to ‘walk the bees in’ but just knock them into the prepared nuc. They went in cleanly in one solid ‘lump’. I closed them up and left them for a couple of day to settle. Its wonderful having bees on all the wild flowers my neighbour has in her garden.


But when I went to check them, 48 hours later, they had not drawn out ANY comb at all and were all huddled together between a frame and the wall of the nuc. I’m not even sure that there is a queen in there at all. I only had a quick look. I have consulted G who thinks it might not have been a secondary swarm – possibly just residue from the first one. So I spent an evening collecting a small box of bees.

Lesson from this week: Its all good experience!!



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