Not just me moving house
After an amazing few weeks with good friends in the Yorkshire Dales, I again found myself in the sunshine cracking open the beehives to see what had been happening inside since I last checked a few weeks ago.
The first thing to report is that Colony 3 has been deserted. This little colony of perhaps only one or two thousand bees had built about two frames worth of wild comb on the roof, leaving the bottom of the nuc untouched. This was a big volume to defend against the wasps we often saw around the nuc, and the wild comb made it near-impossible to inspect. For all we know, the queen may have died. All that was left was three sheaves of rubbery comb, with the honey removed, and a few queen cups on the face of one of them. As a small swarm I doubt they'd have made it through the coming colder months anyway. I left the combs in there for Friday, when we will collect them for a post-mortem. I will also replace the nuc with the full hive in preparation for any late swarms (they are happening this year) and take the nuc off to be cleaned.
Since I had last been to the apiary, Dave had put another super on the hive of Colony 1. It was foundationless, so I was keen to see what they had done with it in the last nine days. Now, it's been said many times before on this blog what chaotic comb those bees build, and considering this they seem to have dealt with the foundationless frames quite well. When I pulled one of the frames out of the box, I could see fifty or so bees dangling from the top of one of them in a beard-like shape. On another two frames, they had built some comb, but it wasn't yet connected to the side of the frame and therefore looked rather precarious. However, they do seem to be taking to the foundationless frames just like in Colony 3.
I am toying with the idea of helping them out with a few frames of foundation in there, but the experimental side of me says no. Despite being very heavy now, the original super box still has about 30% of its volume free, as well as a couple of frames in the main brood body, so the bees can store their honey comfortably in the original space while working on the new foundation. There's something really interesting about foundationless that makes me want to give it a go, mostly curiosity about how the foundationless comb will look and be organised, I guess. And Dave is of course a convert already.
A lot of honey has been produced by Colony 1 now. The original super is now about 70% full, and weighs a lot. The main brood box isn't short of stores either, with about 3¾ frames storing honey, just under a frame storing pollen, and about 5 frames storing brood. I was relieved to see no sign of EFB, but I would have liked to have seen more eggs. In any case, eggs were present, and brood was there at all stages. I hope that there's enough room for laying — since Dave's intervention I hope that they'll move some stores into the supers and laying will increase, though we do have quite a well-populated hive now.
As is now my habit, I left them 1kg of ApiCandy, since quite a lot had been taken in the last few months. We might be experiencing hot and dry weather now, but you never know when it might rain again.
Finally, I was quite impressed at the extent to which they've developed their defences. A single bee followed me back about 200m through the adjacent field to where I changed out of my bee suit, and, after buzzing around me there, followed again another 200m down the road, trying to get into my wellies to give me a sting. I must've looked funny taking my wellies off at the side of the lane in an effort to not get stung. Ultimately, though, I think we both came away from that encounter unscathed.
Framefuls of stores
Frames available for brood
Temper / docility
|C1||✘||1 cup||✔ 5f e||4½f + 7sup||2f brood, 14f super||✔||5||1kg ApiCandy||0||20°C ☀|