This meme says it all !
All our colonies had laying queens over winter, meaning no break in brood (baby bee) production. You can tell a lot about a colony without opening the hive, which we don’t do, unless absolutely necessary, between wintering down in late September and around Easter. Opening the hive causes a drop in the temperature, and the bees will expend a lot of energy trying to bring it back up to maintenance temperature, let alone the slightly higher temperatures required to nurture brood.
From looking on the inspection board, inserted under the mesh floor to monitor for varroa mites, I could see biscuit coloured wax flakes. These are a mix of wax and polllen used to cover larvae during the pupal phases. That was my first clue that there was brood. The other was flakes of new wax, which look like tiny cellophane fragments. These are produced by young bees from glands on their abdomen from 6 days old, until the glands finally dry up at around 21 days old.
Combined with weather too cool to inspect colonies, the extra brood made for very full hives. Even extra supers on above crownboards failed to provide enough room, and I had one swarm. Luckily it went into a bait hive which a friend has nearby, so they are not lost.
It was too cold to open the colonies during our Beginner Beekeeper Course, run by myself and Matt Dunlop. That’s ok though, as our beginner course has two intensive days, followed up by special beginner apiary days and mentoring. The course was fun to run, and Matt and Rene Dunlop and myself provided food which seemed to be quite a talking point. Anyone who’s been to our meetings knows we like our good grub !
Meanwhile the garden is coming all night in leaps and bounds. Our founder member, Sheron Glover, is a superb and energetic gardener, and with the help of our First Wednesday of the month regular volunteers, were cleaning the overgrown sections, and getting them ready for planting up.
We’ve had access to a small part of the Avenue Bowling Pavilion for the last couple of years for spare kit storage. Most of our stuff is a the out apiary now, but we still have quite a bit.
Last Wednesday afternoon we emptied everything out onto the porch, and scrubbed the floors. We’re putting up shelves and hooks and generally organising ourselves.
Very glad to have the help of our lovely midweek volunteer group I’d never have got it done !
We have a kettle, a microwave and possibly a fridge now, so call in on one of the First Wednesdays or Third Sunday’s ( Details on Events page) and join us for a cuppa. You might have to make it yourself if we’re busy painting nucs and hammering nails into frames 😆
Here are some of them having a well earned tea break and photo op !