Friday, 25 June 2010

A Swarm in June

" A swarm in May, a load of hay. A swarm in June, a silver spoon." - old proverb

The new colony Hv2 swarmed today. It was quite unexpected. One minute I was busy baking some bread the next thing I know my garden was once again filled with that loud humming sound. I saw a large cluster hanging from my buddleia bush. By the time I called round at my bee friends, Mike and Jenny, and returned with the borrowed nuc box, the swarm had gone from my back garden. I am very cross with myself. I can only take comfort from the fact that there is a swarm of my bees in the wild - free. I hope it is not caught.

I did a quick check of Hv2 and confirmed that it is indeed the source of the swarm: no eggs, no grubs, plenty of honey and some sealed brood cells. The last swarm in May had taught me the signs to look for. I found a number of queen cells and removed all but one (photo). This will be the new queen for the colony. I took time to make sure there is indeed no queen in the hive, so I just have to wait once more for the arrival of a new queen. What puzzles me is that the hive is far from being crowded - there are at least 4 frames that were not fully drawn. I shall have to speak with someone about this.

The good news is that the long awaited surplus honey is happening. In both hives there are clear sign of combs full of honey in the super. This evening I am going to pick up two more new super boxes and frames. I think things may be alright after all.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


In the last few weeks I had been so busy that I hardly had time to update this blog even though I have been checking the hives to see how both are developing.

The good news is that I was wrong and HV1 has a queen after all. Last blog recorded that I put in a frame of eggs and brood from Hv2 into Hv1 hoping the workers will raise a queen bee, but this prove to unnecessary. When Christine and I checked HV1 just over two weeks ago much to our surprise we found another frame full with sealed brood cells. We quickly discount the possibility of laying worker as the sealed brood cells pattern was very evenly spread, which is very different to the pattern of the brood cells of laying worker bees. This meant we had in fact failed to spot any eggs when we checked the previous time and the queen is definitely was around.

Last Saturday we checked again and finally found the queen bee. We were delighted and agreed that she is very health and good looking. So at last I can relax. Had we not had a queen and the workers would not raise one I would have to consider either buying one in, or merge the two hive. So, all's well and ends well and the news of the the death of the queen in Hv1 was somewhat exaggerated.

Meanwhile I had a quick look at the super at Hv2 and found that the bees are busy drawing out the comb (photo) getting ready for storing honey - I hope. What happened to the the queen in HV1(when did it went out and mated?) and the old green queen is still a bit of a mystery, but this is half of the fun keeping bees I suppose. You keep them and keep you guessing.