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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #11238  by Caroline
 16 Jun 2021, 23:46
Had a colony swarm whilst at the apiary yesterday.

I was sat in car for 5 mins to write records before inspecting the next colony, with my back to the hives. Stood up to find swarm in air. Thinking hives not in swarm mode, must be incoming. Watched, and they looked as if aiming to settle in hedge. 25mins later and they're all over the second of the smaller hives. Eventually they clustered under floor. Left them there while I opened the hive to check.......

The colony had swarmed with the clipped queen. There were no signs the previous inspection, 7 days ago, that they were intending to do anything, with brood across 6 frames and super totally ignored. Now brood on 8 frames and super still ignored.

There were 3 queen cups with an egg and a tiny amount of royal jelly. No other cells. Bees have no qualms about 'breaking the rules'. I've known them to go before a cell is sealed, but far more advanced than these. I think the exceptionally high temperature here in the South had something to do with it.

Once I sorted that lot out, I checked the colony with new queen, thinking that if she was laying I would mark her. 4 frames with open brood, all good. Hadn't seen her and was going to close-up when I thought I might as well check the 10th frame to see if she was there. She was, under a ball of workers. It looked just as if they were trying to finish her off. Watched for a few mins and then decided to check through to see if there was anything I'd missed - no other queen or queen cell. Went back to the 10th frame and bees still balling queen. Moved some workers out of the way and she was still alive. Left them to it and closed hive. Will see what I find on the next inspection!

Beekeeping is never dull................
 #11267  by AdamD
 20 Jun 2021, 16:54
I've had balled queens a couple of times and have pulled the bees off and then caged the queen with some candy and then left them alone so the queen can get let out some time later; when I am not there messing with them - queens OK after that.
 #11268  by AdamD
 20 Jun 2021, 17:01
I've been taking some honey off this week - I anticipate that I will be way down this year as the season started so late. THe June gap seems to be with us although some early blackberry is flowering. Bees seem to be foraging in the afternoon and not the morning - maybe when the temperature warms up enough - although today few bees are flying - except for ones that are robbing two mini-nucs at my out apiary :evil: These have been moved, robbers included. At a new site, some distance away, the robbers won't know their way home so it's a bit like poacher turned game-keeper as they should remain with the small colonies they were robbing. I hope the virgin queens have not flown yet as they might get confused if they have.
 #11270  by MickBBKA
 20 Jun 2021, 23:14
Bees balling the queen can also be a defensive action of the bees to protect the queen when thinking the colony is under attack and protecting her with their bodies. I once marked a queen, placed her on the top bars and the bees just pounced on her. I tried to grab the ball as it fell through the gap in the frames and ended up in a heap on the hive floor. I thought too late now. Went to check back 5 days later expecting emergency queen cells and there she was happily marching across a frame of eggs.
 #11302  by Alfred
 23 Jun 2021, 15:13
One rare bit of good news for the Alfred empire today.
I had one colony that came over winter really strong but then withered down to two frames mid spring.
It has made a spectacular recovery.

I was going to get all responsible beekeepery and cull them but I chickened out and put-them in an unwanted solitary (sleeved down to National)langstroth which was also scheduled for disposal.
They got relocated to a quiet corner to end their days as she was only laying a dozen a day.
I had almost forgotten about them but today saw polystyrene granules under the floor ( makeshift Crownboard)
They have run out of room gnawed through and filled the roof with honeycomb.
I've taken out the two kingspan frames,and given them some foundationless replacements.
I've dug out the super for the foreign contraption and now it's home I have to remotely guess the beespace while converting it for sn4's.
There's an oblong wire qx too but it locates inside the rim of the BB which adds to the guesswork..
Complications abound but the feel good factor of a little victory made my day. :D
Also the Wendy House gang seemed to have calmed down .
I popped a peek.
Lovely waxy slurp peeling back the Crownboard.
Stores abound so I've slipped them a nice new Qx and a super.

One of those all to scarce good days-now the solar calendar says we are officially on the wind- down to winter again......... :(
 #11303  by NigelP
 23 Jun 2021, 17:54
Good to hear all you need is a surplus honey harvest.
Had bee inspector visit today, nice clean bill of health and compliments on quality of bees and hives....even my "bad girl" apiary behaved itself.
He managed to find an elusive queen that has eluded me all season. Highlight was watching a virgin emerge from her cell plus a few newly mated queens now laying.
Had my Keld order arrive of some island mated queens, uniquely described for customs as plastic container samples.....24 hour delivery from Denmark.Just hope these girls get accepted.
 #11308  by JoJo36
 24 Jun 2021, 05:05
Do you mind me asking what is a 'Keld' order Nigel?!
Are these queens advantageous for some reason over local ones ie hygienic type?!
 #11309  by NigelP
 24 Jun 2021, 08:10

With the odd exception these have been the best Buckfast queens I have had from any source.
I received three random island mated queens, not cheap but will more than pay their way in the excess honey yields they generate (given some decent weather and forage).
 #11313  by NigelP
 24 Jun 2021, 17:46
Compound aggression.
Out of 7 hives at my "bad girl" apiary, 4 where pretty horrible. Inspecting one led to them attacking and then on second hive they were recruiting more attackers and by time I got to third one it was about time to call it a day, so huge 4th colony rarely got inspected and shall we say when it did get inspected it appeared to be the worse of the lot.
In hind sight they weren't; it was the compound interest of the aggressive bees from the previous hive inspections building up the "frenzy" as I went from hive to hive. Fortunately now got new queens in the first three and they are nice and almost as calm as I like my hives to be. So inspected the 4th the other day and lo and behold, although they weren't angels they where no where near as bad as previous inspections suggested. In fact a really nice huge colony that has already brought in a load of supers of honey. Just goes to show the effect previous inspections can have on the next hive you inspect with the aggression building up as you inspect one bad hive after another after another.
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