Bees – 6-6-2021

Siobhan and I did an impromptu bee inspection today. It’s been 10 days since we last looked at our colonies and bearing in mind we had a suspected queenless colony to merge, we decided that we ought to get it done before the colony deteriorated.
The upshot was that these insects have outwitted me yet again. The weak, suspected queenless colony, in a nuc which 10  days ago had no eggs, lavae or brood turns out to have 3 frames of brood, evidence of a queen doing her stuff.  It is thriving. and demonstrates the power that decent weather has on insect populations. No need to merge that one!  The colony is fast in need of a bigger brood space but our national brood boxes are all full. We do have a Warre hive to populate and it’s likely that we will transfer the frames there. Watch this space.
We went on to inspect our other colonies.
Our top colony has had a queen problem that the bees have resolved for themselves. The queen either died or was old and failing. The bees had created 3 supercedure cells to replace her. These cells have hatched and it looks like we now have a virgin queen (we didn’t see her), who we hope has, or will shortly be, mated. There are lots of polished nursery cells waiting for eggs so clearly the bees are expecting to be back in the business. We will check this out next Wednesday.
The remaining four colonies  are all expanding in bee numbers. At least one is looking as a potential swarmer. It doesn’t have time to do this before Wednesday since the queen cells are embryonic so we may have the pleasure of doing an artificial swarming for them which we can do with the help our empty nuc.
It’s looking promising with regard to the honey harvest this year. Our colonies are building up bee numbers nicely in this clement weather. The more foraging bees we have by mid summer the larger the harvest is likely to be. The nectar harvesting locally  peaks at about the same time as bramble is in flower and that is some way off as yet, but It all depends on favourable weather for flowering. This is a reverse on last year when the bee build up was late and the summer  flowering was early.
It’s all to play for. See you on Wednesday at 5:15?
ps we have left our empty nuc out in the hope of catching a passing swarm but so far no tenants.