Busy week on the bees!
It has been the busiest week of the year so far on the bees. With the warmer weather some of the colonies have shown signs of wanting to swarm. As a beekeeper we have to try and stop this from happening otherwise we stand to lose our queen and the potential for a good honey crop that season.
For this reason we carry out what is known as an artificial swarm, this involves finding and removing the queen from the hive and putting her in a new hive on a frame. We then place this hive in the place of the old hive and move the old hive to a different location. This means that flying bees fly back to the new hive and join the queen. This then makes them think they have swarmed. The other queenless hive is then left with non flying nurse bees to raise a new queen. That's an artificial swarm. I could if I wanted to recombine the two colonies at a later date, I've not decided what to do with that yet.
The Essex apiary is now jammed with hives ready for the Spring flow, beginning with the Rape and then followed by blackberries. I have to say i'm quite excited about providing London with a thicker more velvety honey this year as well as our runny variety.
I collected a further 5 colonies yesterday which you can see in the foreground of the picture, all very strong and raring to go, travelling with them in the car was a bit scary as ever:
Apart from being VERY grumpy and taking it out on me when I opened them up on arrival, all went well with the transport.
With the big increase in hives this year I had to order in a large number of new hives, equipment and wax... I am STILL waiting for most of this to arrive wihich is really stressful as this order contains supers (the honey boxes) as well as wax and frames. If I don't have these, the bees don't have space and could swarm and i'll miss out on honey yield which I desperately need to begin paying off some of my equipment. Apparently there is a shortage of wax and the company are waiting for the delivery. Beginning to think the season will be over before I see anything ;)
Lastly, I had my first go at queen rearing this week, making my own queens. thinkgs are looking good so far, I'll tell you about it at a later date.