Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Feed Those Bees!!

Swarming season is truly underway. We have collected quite a number. The key to success is FEEDING. A newly developing colony needs a surplus of food to convert into beeswax and honey. If they have a continuous supply then the workers will feed the queen who will in turn increase her egg laying. So you get a faster, stronger developing colony who are able to draw out all your new foundation.

A simple feeder bucket can be used. Mix a solution of 1 kilo of CANE sugar only and 1 pint of water. Make up about 20 liters. If you don't use it now, you'll need it at the end of the season for their winter feed, around Aug-Sept. time. The sugar solution will keep for over a year. Mix until crystal clear. Invert the filled bucket over the holes in the crownboard. Careful not to drip! Wasps will smell it and you will point them to your swarm. They will kill your bees.

Use an empty broodbox or super to hide your bucket. The roof will then fit neatly on top and be stable. Don't just balance the roof on the bucket. The first good wind will blow it off. Also rain and insects will find their way inside. Feed your swarm until they have drawn out the foundation and have filled 70% of the frames with food stores. Then its time to remove the feeder and put your queen excluder on and supers.

This I will show you shortly so watch this space!

photo copyright 2009 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Swarms of Bees are about!

Wow, last week was full of calls for picking up swarms. Best swarm activity in years! Around 11am on Monday in Tooting I was about to get in my car when I heard a loud roar overhead. I thought to myself, that sounds like a swarm of bees? I looked up and there was a prime swarm of bees in flight passing among the chimney breasts of the Victorian terraced houses. I jumped in my car and gave chase, but lost them a few streets away.

The next few days we were busy collecting swarms here and there, but mainly in SW London. Now is the time to super up your hives. Give the bees plenty of room to reduce the chance of swarming.

We have also been busy doing divides. This means we look at colonies that are very strong and showing signs of wanting to swarm, producing queen cells, over populated. We leave the queen and five frames of sealed brood behind in the original hive position. We take the other remaining frames and put them in an empty hive, add the remaining frames of foundation and remove all but two queen cells. BINGO you have the makings of a new colony. Once the queen hatches and starts laying this will grow in size and if they too expand quickly, produce queen cells, you can divide them.

Feed all new divides (nucs) to encourage the queen to lay and the bees to draw out the wax foundation.

photo copyright 2009 ©-The Hive Honey Shop