Spring inspection

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Post by Sean Ph'lib on Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:24 pm

Usually I never open the hives until April but, this year, I took the ball on the hop and opened them today. All bar one came through the winter unscathed - the one that didn't was due to my own negligence: I had noted around the start of August that the queen wasn't up to standard but, for some reason, didn't get around to requeening them. She died during the winter. But the rest have come through with flying colours - all very strong, drawing comb in the top supers. I put it down to leaving each hive with a full super of honey on top of a packed brood chamber and plenty ventilation - bottom entrances wide open and a two-inch hole in the crown board. Cold never kills bees in this country; but dampness does.
I'm expecting early swarms this Spring - though, since I abandoned the use of queen excluders, I haven't had so many swarms (not as many as I'd like!) But, in any case, I intend making lots of splits from whenever I see drone brood in the hives.

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Post by Deryn on Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:03 pm

Congratulations on a great success Sean. I am unable to have bees due to my OH's allergy but am glad there are people like you that look after them.

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Post by cristy on Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:37 am

I missed this post Embarassed I also have been in my hive and can report that they are fine. Powerful even. These last few days of good weather has seen them out in droves and a fair bit of pollen going in. I left them with a full super last fall which is still two thirds full. As I dont know how old the Queen is I may replace her this year, but as she is performing well at the moment I may not. I have a new hive to assemble this year as I plan to divide the colony rather than let it swarm. Sean, do you have problems not using excluders?

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Post by Sean Ph'lib on Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:53 pm

No problems at all Cristy. Ever since my back got too dodgy for lifting full supers of honey, I rob the bees frame by frame. Any frames with brood are left with the bees and put together in the first super which is always left in situ. The only time I'm tempted to use an excluder is during a strong heather flow - not so much to keep the queen down but rather to discourage the bees from putting pollen (which comes in in large amounts during a strong heather flow) into the supers. I think restricting the queen with an excluder is one of the main causes of swarming.

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Post by cristy on Fri Mar 29, 2019 5:43 pm

An interesting concept Sean, specially if like yourself, you have many colonies.

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Post by Sean Ph'lib on Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:32 pm

The bees were so busy today and the day was so warm that the thought crossed my mind that I might try making an early split. Thankfully I was too busy to try it because the temperature plummeted before nightfall and I would have ended up with a box of chilled brood.

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Post by cristy on Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:03 pm

This year has me thinking and doing things that I would not have dreamed of doing 20 years ago. The night time temp is the leveler though. I shall split my colony later this spring and take the original hive with the old queen to a new stand. I must admit its great seeing them out and with such vigour. I have no idea what they are working but they are finding pollen from somewhere. A fare bit of Blackthorn blossom about.

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Post by Sean Ph'lib on Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:50 pm

Mine are working Blackthorn, Willow, Furze and Dandelion. I'm keeping fingers crossed for a Hawthorn flow later in the month - fantastic honey but only comes in any quantity about once every six or seven years. We had a flow four years ago, so it's unlikely; still, you never know...

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Post by cristy on Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:33 am

Hawthorne sounds like Linden or Horse chestnut in only worked in certain years. Despite planting "Bee likes" plants every where possible very few blossoms are being worked by my bees. The yellow Mehonia being the exception. Whats Fruze Sean?

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Post by Sean Ph'lib on Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:13 am

Furze is also known as Whin or Gorse or, in Irish, Aiteann.

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