Friday, 23 April 2010

A caste of bees

When is a swarm not a swarm? The answer is, as I discovered today, when it is a caste of bees.
With the new colony settling into its new hive I thought I could relax a bit. But late this morning I looked out to my garden and I saw what you can see on this short video. "They are swarming again!" was my first thought. I went out and saw a small cluster of bees hanging low down in my rosemary bush. I took a quick look at both hives. Hv2 (the new colony) is normal, but outside the main hive (Hv1) there was a massive amount of bees, all looking very agitated. I wasn't quite sure what was going on.

Once I suited up I took the empty nuc box (again) and placed it beneath the bush. I cut out the branch of rosemary and let it drop into the box. Once I closed the box I place it next to the Hv1, which is a few feet away. By now most of the bee at the entrance of the main hive appeared to be retuning back into the hive. So far so good. It was then I made a number of calls seeking advice.

After a long conversation with one particular experienced beekeeper who outlined some of the possible scenarios regarding the caste of bees. She suggested that I either have a queen returning from its mating flight (best case scenario), or last Sunday I somehow missed a queen cell and now I have two queens. In the latter case I shall have to check things out and take corrective action. The latter case will involve keeping one queen ( in the main hive), and knocking off the other queen bee. That done I shall combine bees from the main hive and the nuc in order to preserve the strength of this colony.

All said and done I have had quite enough excitement for one week, though I have learned a heck of a lot. Who said beekeeping is a gentle pastime?

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