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The First Inspection

posted Apr 12, 2020, 4:12 PM by Helen Mooney   [ updated Apr 12, 2020, 4:13 PM ]
Our bees have overwintered well.  They are currently feasting on the nectar and pollen of Ribes sanguineum, Floweing currant. The first inspection was quick, measured and yielded a task list for the next visit- queen excluders and supers need to go on as the dandelion flow had started last week and, the space needed for that wet nectar plus unused ivy stores, is taking up valuable laying space for our queens, and if this was not resolved, could lead to early swarming.

Unfortunately we are unable to run any training courses at present, and yet beginners from the last two or three years will need support during swarm season and in their first attempts to rear extra queens. We will endeavour to answer your questions by email for the moment, and look forward to running classes again soon.

There is drone brood in some colonies now, and we use this as a predictor of swarm season, because 40 days from drone eggs being deposited in cells, those drones will be ready to mate on the wing with new season queens.  So we always try to be  ready by mid May.  By ready I mean new frames of foundation boxed up and being brought on every inspection (actually we start this from mid April). Nuc boxes all disinfected and ready to house old queens as part of our swarm control measures. More nuc boxes to set up new nucs with ripe queen cells from a colony that has previously had the old queen removed once charged queen cells had been found. You just can never have enough nuc boxes.  There is lots more going on too- we are always changing apiary sites, taking orders for nucs, cleaning and disinfecting, rendering old combs (that never seems to come to a natural end) and making our final selection for which queens to breed from, as well as choosing the method to be used this year. Well, it keeps us out of trouble for one thing, but please understand that all of these activities may mean that your e-mails may go unanswered until the next wet day, when we get a bit of time.

In the meantime, enjoy your bees, enjoy the latent swarm season now upon us, and enjoy getting ready for the actual swarm season. It will make things so much easier and enable you to continue to enjoy your bees and avoid playing catch up all summer.