Sprung. Finally.

By | March 8, 2014

Spring has long been one of my 4 favourite seasons.
Now as a beekeeper, Ive got 10,000 new reasons to look forward to the season.

Suns out, roof off, the colony is getting out to stretch their wings in the spring air

Suns out, roof off, the colony is getting out to stretch their wings in the spring air

March usually gets warm enough to be able to open the hive, and see how the bees survived winter. There needs to be enough winter bees to cluster together and stay warm (around 10,000), enough honey to feed to generate warmth (around 20 kgs), healthy enough without disease or other nasties like varroa mite, and a warm, water tight hive to stay warm and dry over winter.

Finally, after the wettest winter on record (since 1700 and something…!), Saturday was warm enough to open the hive up, and see how the colony was. A brick on top of the hive this winter was to stop the roof blowing off was a wise move, considering the stormy, windy weather!

This morning I was glad to see a lot of bees clustered around the front of the hive, as they were all taking advantage of the sunny, warm and still day to forage for pollen. This is an excellent sign, as pollen is used as a protein source for growing bees – the presence of foragers usually indicates some new brood inside.

A healthy looking frame of capped brood. Under the caps are bee larvae, developing into young bees. It takes 21 days from egg to hatching.

A healthy looking frame of capped brood. Under the caps are bee larvae, developing into young bees. It takes 21 days from egg to hatching.

Low and behold, the queen is laying eggs like a battery hen on commission, and from the stage of the developing brood, she has been laying eggs for around 25 days already. An excellent sign, because a larger population means more foragers for nectar, all going well this will be transformed into a bumper honey harvest by August 2014.

A good healthy queen does mean I need to be on the lookout, and not get caught out like last spring. Essentially, last spring the queen ran out of space to lay more eggs, because I didnt realise how early and fast she would lay… and the bees decided to swarm to find a new, larger house with a loft extension.

This year, Im alert to their ways, and will be beginning my weekly checks, pronto!


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