Spring this year is developing well. Even here on the chilly east coast of Scotland colonies are looking good and flying strongly when the sun is out. Large amounts of pollen are being taken in and there’s every sign that the hives are queenright and rearing lots of brood . It’s too soon to open […]
We’re fast approaching the time of the season when colonies will attempt (and manage) to swarm. Swarming is the way bees increase their colony numbers. Inevitably, because it means the loss of many of the foragers – the honey-gathering workers – beekeepers try and prevent or control swarming. Prevention is better than control, but it […]
The year continues to be unseasonably cool, with daytime maximum temperatures being at least a couple of degrees (ºC) below the thirty year average for this region. Nevertheless, colonies are building up reasonably well and some are starting to make preparations to swarm – drone brood levels are rising, the number of ‘play cups’ are increasing and one […]
Shortly after they were introduced I purchased two of the poly National hives sold by Modern Beekeeping. These are well made but, in my view after using them for a few months, poorly designed. The poly is dense and strong, they have clever plastic frame runners and they are easy to assemble. I’ve kept bees […]
Sometime in the first week of May two of my bait hives were occupied by swarms. One was knee-height in a field and the other was above head-height on top of my greenhouse. I was away all week so cannot be sure the date the swarms moved in (though looking back at the weather records I suspect […]
The swarming season is almost upon us. Colonies now have good levels of drone brood and increasing numbers of mature drones. The weather is improving. There’s a good flow on from the oil seed rape and colonies are starting to get overcrowded. Inevitably this means that colonies will start making preparations to swarm … recent […]
The humble hive stand … so often ignored, overlooked or taken for granted. Hive stands fulfil an important function in the apiary. If designed properly they help both the beekeeper and the beekeeping. In contrast, the bees themselves probably gain relatively little, though there are some benefits for the bees from using well-designed or constructed […]
Or, more specifically, their National poly brood boxes. I’ve just invested in some of these to help some of my colonies overwinter. This was prompted by how well colonies housed in Thorne’s Everynuc’s did last winter when compared to full colonies in cedar boxes. I’ll do a wholly unscientific side-by-side test of colonies in cedar […]
It is time to deploy bait hives to attract lost swarms. They are easy and inexpensive to setup and provide a valuable service by capturing lost swarms. Current social distancing regulations preclude effective mentoring, meaning it is likely more queen cells will be missed and more swarms will be lost. Potential future restrictions could significantly impact beekeeping, so bait hives deployed now might be useful for several months. Be prepared … an entirely appropriate phrase as you’re trying to attract the scout bees.
We are living in interesting times. The coronavirus pandemic has, in the space of a week, dramatically changed the structure and interactions of society. What impact will the coronavirus pandemic have on beekeeping? It depends upon your experience and preparation. Social distancing will impact mentoring, sales and – if extended to lockdowns – access to your colonies. If you are just beginning you will probably have to do without a mentor. You may struggle to source colonies for sale if imports are restricted for any reason. However, there are likely to be more swarms and deploying bait hives might stop the bees bothering other people. Although there are lots of certainties in the beekeeping season – mites, swarms, honey – this year looks like being very uncertain and very unusual.