Monday, 4 April 2011

Waaaaay too long

Way too long since I either posted or, to be honest inspected my bees. The last time I opened them up was in December to dose them with oxalic acid. The weather's always been too cold when I've been around to make an inspection worthwhile till now. I wish I had my bees at home - I'm sure it would allow me to inspect more.

Anyhow, of the 3 hives I have in Maida Vale, London, the big two (Amidala and Boudicca) made it through, and the nuc (Dido) sadly died over the winter. Looking at the mouldy interior and black, dry bees told me that it must have happened several months ago. I reckon the nuc probably ran out of supplies. Certainly there was nothing left in the hive other than dead bees, and quite a few of them.

Of the two remaining hives at that site, Amidala continues to be the one which impresses. Mouse guard off and super on (damn, must remember to take out the entrance reducer next time). The colony has now filled 8 of the deep brood frames I installed last mid-summer. Lots of eggs and brood on many frames. I saw the old queen still going strong. The bees were not too grumpy despite the cool (11C) and cloudy weather. Hive Boudicca was, as ever a different matter. The first thing I noticed was the huge pile of dead bees outside the front, in marked contrast to the tidy exterior to Amidala. And then as soon as I opened Boudicca up it was the familiar story of dive-bombing. Grumpy, unhygienic bees: that queen's number is up as soon as I get some fresh queen cells from another hive! The colony is quite strong, though. Most frames had some brood or honey, with the former probably occupying parts of 7-8 frames which is the most I have every seen in that hive. I whacked on a super, removed the mouse guard and left quite satisfied, though with regicide firmly in my mind.

I'm disappointed to have lost a colony, but since it was a nuc it's not the greatest surprise. I should have left some fondant for them, I think, rather than relying on the 2-3 frames of honey I thought would be enough to pull this small colony through. It was rather sad to have found the blackened, dessicated queen corpse. I will flame the interior of this nuc before putting I into production again. Given the cold winter, I have reasoned that the mould was a post-wipeout feature of this hive rather than a contributory factor, and so I am willing not to destroy the box so long as I treat it carefully.

So, no shook swarm or Bailey frame exchange this year? Well this may be part down to either an intrinsic lazyness or more likely a feeling that I cannot bear to waste brood. However, realistically a lot of the frames in those hives are around 1 year old and therefore likely young enough to not have fostered disease. I know that next Spring I will need to make a different decision.

No comments:

Post a Comment