Our last meeting was a scratch affair, with some interesting questions raised: syrup strength for spring feed, queen marking, swarm collection, hive placing and so on.
25 brood frames were rewaxed, thank you all “volunteers.” Len told us his hives in London had drone brood developing. In fact they swarmed on 8th April!
By this time you should have taken your hives apart on a warm day, scraped and cleaned the floor, removed mouseguards and enlarged the entrance to half its maximum size. If you have brood and a half, the brood box should be at the top.
Dirty or damaged combs need replacing [if no eggs or brood on them].
If you find at the end of this month that you have combs still full of solid honey restricting the queen’s space to lay, they should also be replaced. There are 2 choices for them:
- Cut the comb out of the frame, melt the lot down gently, once cooled save the wax, and use the honey as “Baker’s honey” – some people like the stronger taste of ivy honey.
- Keep the best full combs and use them to feed a hungry colony, or when you make nucs this summer. Water should be available for the bees to make use of hard honey.
The oil seed rape crop is now in flower, if you have some near your hives, add a super immediately the bees cover most of the brood frames. Bees can draw and fill a super very quickly at this time of the year providing they are numerous enough to be able to take advantage of the rape crop. The recent warm spell will help them build up.
They no longer need feeding by the beekeeper, but a weekly inspection routine should be started, looking for evidence of a queen [eggs and brood], room for her to lay and expand the colony, an even brood pattern and food stored within the colony.
Check for queen cells. If you do not know what to do, ask someone experienced for help.
Please think about whether you could be a mentor to a beginner this season, it would involve raising a nucleus colony and being responsible for demonstrating to a beginner before they receive the 5 frame nuc, hiving it, and being on call in person and by phone to help.
The beginner will pay a mentor £40 for the nuc, a bargain. The colony will expand with the new beekeeper’s experience and he or she would be expected to attend as many meetings as possible.
I will be asking for names of mentors and beginners at the meeting, and will attempt to match them up geographically. This may be tricky as we have several new members from the Folkestone & Hythe area, on the edge of our range, and may have to think of an alternative strategy to give hands on experience.
Tony Carter, our former Treasurer, has generously donated 2 of his hives, with bees, to be a part of our Association set up at Eythorne. He is sadly giving up practical beekeeping and consequently has a lot of equipment to sell, see below.
He can be sure that his wealth of beekeeping knowledge will be immensely useful to members at all levels of experience.