FEBRUARY

Well, January has come and gone and, “none too soon” I’m inclined to say. Hopefully we can now kiss last season goodbye. It has without a doubt, been the worst that I can remember. The good thing is that the evenings are beginning to get a little lighter as are the mornings and as I said earlier, there are now quite an abundance of Spring flowers about, so, time to look forward and make plans for this coming season.

No longer able to work in the garage, my efforts at DIY have been relegated to the greenhouse whenever bad weather has threatened, as it did through most of last month. Quite pleasant on the rare occasions when the sun broke through but unfortunately, the strong winds have managed to smash a couple of the roof panes which hasn’t helped matters although, I was still able to finish Cuprinoling my new nuc’s. I have to say that I’m very pleased with the finished article. I would have preferred to finish the roofs with metal covers but for some reason, no-one seems to supply them although most suppliers seem to have covers for standard hive roofs available. You’ll see I’ve used self adhesive kitchen foil, it seems pretty robust so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it does the trick. It does look quite pretty so fingers crossed the bees like it.

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PLEASED WITH THE FINISHED ARTICLE, HOPE THE BEES FEEL THE SAME WAY

I just hope they still feel the same way when they finally take up residence in them. Talking of which, at last I can report that things really seem to be looking up at the bottom of the meadow. Lots of activity around the hive entrances, good numbers of bees coming and going. For the first time in ages I left feeling really optimistic.

I’ve continued with my visits on all but the worst days, weather-wise, and happy to say, apart from one morning following a particularly stormy night when one of the roofs had shifted a couple of inches to one side, nothing much else to report. The last lot of fondant has been pretty much ignored which suggests to me that the stores situation is holding up which is good to see. A warm sunny day, Wednesday of this week, probably the best day so far this year, lots of activity in the apiaries, certainly more than I’ve seen thus far and for the first time, some pollen being taken in.

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THERE ARE BEES CARRYING POLLEN, HONESTLY

I always find February something of a frustrating month, there are so many jobs around the apiary that I could be getting on with but as usual, it’s the weather that has the final say. It’s still far too early to take more than a cursory glance beneath the crown board and the damp weather has prevented me from giving the hive stands and empty hives their annual coat of Cuprinol. Sadly, this year there are more empty hives than full ones so, as I said, plenty to get on with as soon as the weather permits. From the amount of activity around the hive entrances, I’m guessing the queens are coming into lay so to help them out by raising the hive temperature a little, I’ve replaced the floor slides which I will leave in until the first or second week in April. I’ve also removed the mouse guards which have by now, fulfilled their purpose and apart from keeping an eye on the stores situation, that’s about it for a while.

I was asked the other day why I had made so many nuc’s., we now have nine incidentally, and the reason is this. Even though my last attempt at queen breeding was what can only be described as a dismal failure, I fully intend to push on with my efforts and am firmly resolved to give The Cloake Board method another try. I made a board and had a go with it a few years ago but my grafting let me down. I’ve already described my clumsy efforts at some length in a previous paragraph so I won’t go into that again, suffice to say, two cataract operations and a visit to “Specsavers” later, I feel I’m now in with a chance. For those of you unfamiliar with The Cloake Board method, it concludes with the nursery hive, which will be on double brood, surrounded by a circle of nuc’s with a radius of about three metres, all facing inwards. The day before your new queens are due to emerge, having first removed the incumbent queen to a different location, remove all of the frames and share them between the nuc’s. Ensure that each one has at least one frame each of brood and stores and one sealed queen cell before removing the nursery hive. The flying bees returning to the now vacant hive position will take up residence in the nuc’s. which can then be removed to their permanent location.

So, that then, is the reason for all the additional nuc’s. I was intrigued by the Cloake Board method when it was first described by Mr Adam Vevers at one of our Apiary meetings and for me, it has never lost it’s appeal combining as it does, so many different facets of our hobby. Firstly you have to make yourself a Cloake Board, if you decide on the Doolittle method, you will have to produce a frame of wax cups and finally, you will have to master the art of grafting. Anyone who can get to grips with that lot, deserves, in my opinion, to master the art of successful queen rearing.

 

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