Each spring we have a weather issue to contend with. Two years ago we had record amounts of spring sunshine, last year there were air frosts on most nights during April. This year was one of the driest April / Map periods I can remember. The dry weather held back crops and reduced nectar flow for rural crops and, I suspect town and village gardens were similarly affected.
But now we are at the height of the swarm season so checking for colonies making queen cells is still important. For colonies that were artificially swarmed with frames of foundation do check the bees are drawing comb – sometimes it is necessary to rearrange these frames so that all the foundation is drawn by the end of summer. Last year I wrote quite detailed notes on the artificial swarm process when introducing frames of foundation. Rather than repeat it here please follow the link as I hope I provides enough detail on how to manage the whole process:
Many of us have taken off our spring crop and I have found that my crop is down on normal years. It is tempting to extract all supers on a hive but remember to leave some stores for the colony. Queens in National boxes are often prolific and can almost fill all the frames with brood leaving little room for stores. So a super containing some honey should be left on the hive.
If you have spare brood frames containing stores one or two can be added to the brood box to provide the bees with food. In fact it may be necessary to feed during June as some sites may have very little forage. But ensure that the syrup is not stored in super frames as it will contaminate the honey. We don’t want local honeys sold containing sugar as that will be a PR disaster.
Lastly, ensure enough supers are present on the hive to accommodate the bees. Supers aren’t just used for honey storage – strong colonies can become congested through lack of super space. Congestion is one of the swarming triggers so, when the top super is full or almost full, add another super. This applies to the peak of the season; in late summer the colony is reducing in size so this no longer applies.
Following the previous Zoom Improver session we received a request asking if we could talk about differing brood boxes, e.g National, Commercial, brood and half, double brood etc. So I mention this with some trepidation as many beekeepers have strong views on this topic. However, I think we should cover this as there are pros and cons for each of the configurations. What works for one person doesn’t for another but to hear the arguments helps us decide on what to try in future.
So do come along to the Zoom session on Tuesday 14th June at 7.30pm. An invitation will be sent to members beforehand so look forward to seeing you there.