The first few days of June have passed quite uneventfully, thankfully. I forgot to mention that rather than waste the queen cells that “Cam 2″ had left behind when they swarmed I put one, along with the brood frame it was on and a frame of stores into a nuc. I had a quick look after a couple of days and it didn’t look as though anything had happened. The bees seemed happy enough so I decided to leave them to it. A week or so later I had a look and strangely, although there was no sign of eggs or fresh brood, there seemed to be twice as many bees most of which were busily drawing comb, but the queen cell, far from hatching, looked to have been broken down. Again, the bees seemed far too busy to take any notice of me so I again boxed them back up. They seemed quite happy, just working away there in their nuc. and as they weren’t interfering with anything I decided to leave them to it for another week. This as it happened, was the right decision for the next time I opened them up I was confronted by a completely new frame filled with brood.
STILL A LITTLE PUZZLED AS TO HOW THE NUC HAD COME ABOUT.
I felt really pleased with the nuc, though still a little puzzled as to how it had come about. I was talking it over with Bob, the owner of the site and said when asked, that I hadn’t decide what to do with the nuc as yet. Well, if you want to have another hive here, that’s fine with us, he said. It’ll mean extending the hive stand by another three feet I told him. That’s not a problem, Bob replied, do whatever you need to. So that was it, decision made. I’ve set about extending the stand and all being well the next few weeks will see a fourth hive at “Mendip C”.
FINISHED STAND EXTENSION “MENDIP C”
Stand extension finished and Cuprinol well and truly dry, time to move hive three to it’s new position which is, onto the extension, as far to the right as it would go.As there is no rush, I decided to do the move in two visits and completed it two days ago. I wanted to give them a couple of days before moving hive two as I didn’t want any of the flying bees from three returning to two.
Paid a flying visit to “C” this afternoon. Began by strolling up to the hives, pleased to see the bees in three had happily settled in their new position and all were busily going about their business paying little or no attention to me. Time to start moving two I decided. A part of fixing the stand extension was the fixing of a 2×1″ batten. It stretched the whole length of the stand and involved me kneeling in front of the hives while I screwed it in place, sometimes with my face no more than a couple of inches away from the hive entrances. I was wearing a veil and gloves but, even though I was using a battery drill and as I said, no more than inches away from them, they took little or no notice of me. With that in mind, I had no qualms about moving hive two unaided, feeling certain that they would pay me the same lack of attention as they had previously. Now, two is on double brood and currently has three supers on, a fact I didn’t take account of before commencing the move. The hive was a lot heavier than I’d expected and stupidly, I lost my grip and allowed the hive to tilt at an alarming angle for a moment. I’m sure it was less than a few seconds until I managed to get it repositioned and in an upright state, but that was all the occupants needed. Out they streamed, all with only one thing on their minds, “instant retribution”. With too many stings to comfortably count, I made it to the car.
HIVES TWO AND THREE IN THEIR NEW POSITIONS
I returned to “C” this morning and slid hive two along to it’s final position, no mishaps this time and the bees more or less ignored me. There were one or two who paid me a little more attention than I would have wished, but, pleased to report, no stings on this occasion. If all goes to plan, sometime this week I shall bring an empty hive up from the meadow and hive the nuc. They will become the new hive two whilst two will become three and so on. It was four days ago I last examined the meadow hives so this morning saw me smoker in hand, approaching hive one. I worked my way along briefly checking each hive in turn and pleased to report, with the exception of nine which was desperately short of stores, all were looking pretty good. Four was still streets ahead of her neighbours but although the frame of comb which I’d put in previously was fully cleaned and covered in bees, the queen still hadn’t started laying it up. This not only puzzled me, it disappointed me as I had a feeling that I was going to need that frame of brood when I visited “C” later, and that was to be proved correct! I gave nine a slab of fondant before leaving for “C”.
Pulling into the parking area at “C” I was met by Bob, busy as usual, on this occasion, trying to fit a new head onto his wife’s favourite broom. He had snapped the head off earlier and was trying to get it sorted before she returned home. “She’s had this same broom for years” Bob told me, and with a wink.” mind, it’s had four new heads and three new handles”. Yes, I thought, I saw that episode of “Only Fools and Horses” too, and returned his wink.
“Bees weren’t very happy yesterday, got stung twice”. He showed me quite a nasty swelling just below his left eye. Not the sort of news you want to hear when you are in the process of increasing the size of your apiary. I apologised and repeated that I was in the process of sorting out my queen problem. I hate the thought of Bob or his wife getting stung, they’ve been so good to me and as yet, haven’t even had a jar of honey, by way of a thankyou. “It’s not a problem”, Bob repeated, ” we love having the bees here and we knew from the start we’d get stung from time to time”. Most of the time the bees seem to be ok, even with the queen problems, it’s me opening them up that seems to galvanise them into action and this can last for up to twentyfour hours. Bob said that he was quite happy to stay away from that part of the garden until I had sorted my queens and I agreed to leave a note for him to tell him if I’d been playing with them.
With mixed thoughts I made my way up to the hives, this queen problem had now taken on a whole new sense of urgency. No-one’s patience lasts forever, and I couldn’t expect my owners to accept that part of their garden had become a “no go” area indefinitely.
I can’t remember whether I mentioned earlier, but hive one has been in the process of superseding for a couple of weeks or so. There was only one queen cell and the bees seemed happy enough so I’d left them to it. The cell was quite a bit longer than any I could remember seeing previously which did strike me as a bit strange at the time but, as I said, I left them to it.
THE CELL WAS LONGER THAN ANY I’D PREVIOUSLY SEEN
THESE 10 AND 5P PIECES WILL GIVE YOU SOME IDEA OF SIZE
I fully expected to find the cell had hatched at today’s visit and on opening the brood box, went straight to frame four where I knew the cell to be. The bees seemed markedly less friendly today than at my last visit so I don’t suppose I was unduly surprised to find that the cell hadn’t hatched. Next port of call, hive two. Still no signs of a queen in residence and by now I was under attack from all quarters.
Once home, I was straight on the ‘phone. “I want two queens please, yes, marked and clipped”. “Can’t deliver until next Friday,” came the reply, “and they will cost you £86 “. Ten days was longer than I’d expected to have to wait and the cost made me cough a little, but, if it solves my queen problem and keeps my owners “on side”, it’ll be a price well worth paying.