Is queen clipping cruel?

Synopsis : Is clipping the queen a cruel and barbaric practice? Does it cause pain to the queen? Surely it’s a good way to stop swarming? This is an emotive and sometimes misunderstood topic. What do scientific studies tell us about clipped queens and swarming? Introduction After the contention-free zone of the last couple of […]

Bait hives, evolution & compromise

Synopsis : The features of a successful bait hive are well known. However, they are not absolutes. The more desirable features your bait hives offer the more successful they should be, but both the bees and the beekeeper can make compromises through necessity or preference. Introduction I gave a talk on bait hives to a […]

Triumphs and tragedies

Synopsis: Having dealt with beekeeping tragedies last week, it’s now time to consider landmark events (‘triumphs’) in beekeeping. These four things – successful overwintering, swarm control, finding the queen and queen rearing – are what I consider the most notable. All beekeepers should be able to achieve these, and their beekeeping will benefit as a […]

Winter weight

Synopsis: With colonies now rearing brood there is a risk of them starving. Here are a couple of ways of checking the winter hive weight to determine if you need to add fondant. These checks should be conducted every 2-3 weeks until the bees are foraging in the warmer spring weather.  Introduction Last week I described […]

Why keep bees

Synopsis : What makes people want to start beekeeping? Is it to Save the bees, or because they just like honey? Is their persistence and long-term success influenced by their initial motivation to keep bees. Do they keep beekeeping for the same reasons they start beekeeping? Introduction Hundreds of potential new beekeepers, spread across the […]

It’s a drone’s life

What has a mother but no father, but has both a grandmother and grandfather? If you’ve not seen this question before you’ve not attended a ‘mead and mince pies’ Christmas quiz at a beekeeping association.  The answer of course is a drone. The male honey bee. Drones are produced from unfertilised eggs laid by the […]

A no competition, competition

Unless you’re in an unseasonably warm part of the country, mid-April is usually early enough to put out your bait hives. This year, because of the unusually cold snap in the last week or so, it might still be a bit early. However, colonies are developing well and as soon as the weather properly warms […]

Quick thinking & second thoughts

I gave my last talk of the winter season on Tuesday to a lovely group at Chalfont Beekeepers Society. The talk was all about nest site selection and how we can exploit it when setting out bait hives to capture swarms. It’s an enjoyable talk as it includes a mix of science, DIY and practical […]