Surprise! Bees can’t read

By | May 18, 2012

Thursday evening’s bee school class served up 3 surprises;

Surprise One – fine-ish, still, and warm weather. Bonus.
The Rua Tekau hive was stable, with brood in all stages, and even some pollen stores! A really good sign that the bees had been out foragging at natural sources. Pollen provides a protein source for new brood, so its very important for the health of the hive and the baby bees.

Surprise two – we looked at another groups hive, who were getting ready to swarm.
We knew this, as they were developing Queen cells, to make new queens.
We performed (or observed) an artificial swarm technique, which effectively split the hive into two – one hive with the current queen, and one hive with the new developing queen cells.
The hive with the current queen thinks they’ve moved to a new site, so they are happy and get to work building out their new home.
The queens in the developing cells site will fight to the death when they emerge, until only one queen remains.
One hive becomes two, its a swarm management technique essential to know.

Surprise Three – we visited the third groups hive, who were also planning to swarm!
We dealt with this colony in a quite different method, but still an artificial swarm technique.
In this case, rather than splitting the colony in two separate hives, this colony was kept in one hive.
The current queen was kept in a bottom chamber, and the developing queen cells kept in a top chamber. The intention here is encourage even more queen cells! A technique called queen rearing.
Queens are valuable, and you can sell new queen in a 5 frame “nucleus” for around for around £200. Once more queen cells have been created, and are capped / sealed, the frames with queen cells are split into 5 frame “nucleus” boxes for sale.
Another consideration is the temperament of the bees – its great to rear new queens from a  good natured queen – and this one apparently is good natured and virile.. woof!

One thing Im learning, as the saying goes, is “bees dont read the book we write”.
Its a little jack in the box with each hive visit, you really don’t know what you are going to see from week to week.

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