Graham has been SOOOO ill, fortunately he is well on the mend now and we have got back into our hives – at long last.
Quite a story to tell. You will have read that the weather up here – since the end of March – has left much to be desired and then Graham’s emergency trip to hospital and subsequent period of recovery landed on us and so the hives were somewhat neglected – we have paid the price!!!!
On the few occasions that he was up at the apiary swarms were seen and dealt with so that we had three nucleus boxes on the go as well as the five hives. One of the boxes is on the wheel-barrow I mentioned a couple of months ago – it works very well. On Wednesday this week with the weather being grand we went into every hive.
What we found made it quite obvious that all of the hives had swarmed and were all clearly awaiting the opening of the most beautiful sealed Queen cells or mating flights to get the whole cycle going again. Two of the nucleus boxes had eggs in so that was most encouraging and the third was building up well – so no worries there. Rob Mackenzie reminded us that, when the weather is this changeable and cold, it can take a month for mating flights to happen so we are holding onto that fact!!
In fact, after our inspections there were no worries with any of the hives, bar one, with all having perfectly normal behaviour, happy and contented bees which encourages us to feel that all is well, it was just not what we had planned. The hive which gave concern had few bees, some capped brood but no sign of eggs – we are thinking about this one. As it is a full-sized hive we can probably add some bees from another to it – certainly we can add a frame with some eggs as when we have some to spare.
Our Bee-friends are coming to see the apiary on Sunday so there will be plenty of informed advice for us – thank goodness – and as we only want to take five viable hives into the winter we might be able to make some plans to combine colinies.
No word from Michael and Casper as to how the bees they had from us are but, working on the principle that no news is good news and the hope we will see them on Sunday, I am sure we will get an encouraging report.
The varroa situation seems resolved as all looked well on Wednesday. This has been quite a learning curve for us as we are usually very attentive to our bees but, because of the situation which was beyond our control, our bee-keeping has been somewhat haphazard. It is still early in the season and so I am sure that the hives will easily build up in time for autumn and there is much keep for them to forage on. The hives already had good stores and we are reasonably positive for the remainder of the season.
Once again there is a potatoe crop adjacent to the apiary, very simlar to the situation which we faced two summers ago. Graham has spoken to the potato growing contractor who has promised to give him advanced warning when the crop is to be sprayed. Two years ago this worked well, fingers crossed for the same this year.
We gave a colony of bees to a great friend who reports that ‘they are sorted out’ and up and running.
Graham and I have always kept bees for the huge interest it gives us and this season is not letting us down. Even MORE interesting.