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Spring Management Begins

posted Apr 11, 2019, 2:25 PM by Helen Mooney   [ updated Apr 11, 2019, 2:26 PM ]
We did some cursory inspections on 28th March, and found that queens were laying well in most cases. 
The only exceptions were a few of last years queens were beginning to fail. It was as if they had laid an initial round of brood, but after that, completely stopped laying, to such a degree that we found laying workers had just started in a few colonies.  it would appear, from reading online forums, that queen failure of this nature is a slight problem this year. We chose to cull the queens, move the nucs/colonies to a new site, and after a week in the new location, placed beside a chosen hive to be strengthened, the brood (if present) was united to the host colony and the bees were shook out in front of it, and they were gradually accepted into their new home, without any risk to the existing queens.

Another problem this year is Varroa.  Indeed, it seems as though last year's Apiguard treatment was not effective in some colonies.  We have noted the genetic line in question, as there is a genetic component to Varroa susceptibility.  Some colonies are now displaying DWV (Deformed Wing Virus) as well, and we have chosen to apply two strips (one dose) of Apivar (active ingredient Amitraz).  It is not a chemical we like to use, but it is effective at 10 degrees celcius and Oxalic Acid is not suitable when there is brood in the colony.

The good news is that, even in weaker colonies,  there are lots and lots of foragers out, with new bees orienting all the time and lots of gorse and dandelion pollen being brought in.  Some white thorn is already in blossom and the sycamore is not far behind.  This time last year, four frames of brood was not seen until the beginning of May, due to the extended cold Spring, and we still had a record honey crop.  So swarming could come early this year (there is drone brood in stronger colonies - so count 40 days until swarm time, i.e. the length it takes to rear sexually mature drones) and we may be able to start rearing queens in early May (I wait until I see the first natural swarm cells).  So this weekend we will be waxing new brood frames that have been recycled after old wax was rendered. And we will be taking stock of equipment- we just never seem to have enough hives or nuc boxes!!!  Enjoy the Spring build up.  We will continue to maximise laying space in single brood boxes by taking out honey bound frames and gouging out honey the top corners of brood frames, once supers are on for them to move the honey into.