Spring growth

We have had some lovely weather here over the last couple of days, and the bees have been making the most of it. I am checking my apiary for swarms twice a day now, although all the hives have quite a bit of growing to do.

Here is the hive I nadired last week – so I put a super underneath. The advantage of this is that the bees won’t lose their nest heat but they will have room to move down and create more space for the queen to lay. When the bees are still gearing up, they can struggle to start building in a super as the ambient temperature needs to be nice and warm to help them build wax, and that cold space over the top of them will affect the colony’s thermoregulation: remember that normally they would have a blanket of honey-filled comb over the top of them. If you have drawn comb in super frames that can be better, but as I don’t use foundation, and I cut the combs out of the supers when I harvest, ready-to-use shallow frames are hard for me to come by this early in the season!

So, I checked under the hive today to see what was going on with the inspection board.

You can see the difference between the accumulated rubbish in a week at this time of year as opposed to the winter – and why the inspection board is a useful way to establish what is going on upstairs. The whole of the hive body is now in use and there is a concentration of wax flakes:

There are a few Varroa (you can just pick out their shiny chestnut bodies in the second photo) but there are so many bees I am not worried about that number of mites.

I also saw these:

Greater and Lesser wax moth caterpillars. I wondered why they were there as this is under the floor, but shining my torch towards the front of the hive underneath the mesh, I saw a small pile of debris just under the entrance and that is clearly what they have been feeding on. It is best to remove and clean the board every time you visit the hive as the bees cannot police this area and if the arisings amass too much it can be difficult to remove the board and the wax moth have a field day! Use your hive tool to scrape it clean and then replace. Some people remove the board during the summer but the bees have enough ventilation with it remaining in, so I leave mine in situ so that I can get a feel for what the colony is doing without having to open them up.

Swarms have started here in East Sussex so keep an eye out when visiting your bees. Ensure your bees also have a plentiful supply of safe water – or rather moisture. I uploaded new videos for both patrons and followers here: https://www.patreon.com/waywardbee

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