MARCH

Well, the first week of March has passed without incident, the bees have continued to take advantage of the sun whenever she has made an appearance. Hive one, after a shakey start, has, it would seem, has caught up with her neighbours. The nuc’s.have moved along at an alarming rate, especially four which at one time gave all the outward signs that they were preparing to swarm, such was the activity outside the hive. They had started to fill the space above the crown board with comb filled with honey such was the activity within. I decided to get them into a full size hive at the earliest oportunity and yesterday as luck would have it, presented me with that oportunity. The weather forcast was for wall to wall sunshine all day and by the time I arrived at the meadow, it was obvious the Met.Office had got it right.

I was still concerned that even with all the activity around the hive, that the bulk of the bees might still be clustered and the last thing I wanted to do was risk losing them. A quick look under the crown board revealed all the frames “welded” together. I decided the best way to move them would be to firstly loosen the frames from the runners and then lift the whole block “en masse” as it were, and transfer them into the new hive. This would, I reasoned, create a minimum of disturbance and would be “mission accomplished” before the bees, which I have to say, were in remarkably good humour, realised that they had been interfered with. It wasn’t until I’d opened the new hive that I remembered that I’d fitted all the hives for the new apiary with castellated runners and that these had 38mm.spacings. This obviously meant that the frames from the nuc.weren’t going to just drop in as I had envisaged but were somehow going to have to be prised apart. Time for a re-think. I decided to run my ideas past my friend Liz and told her of my concerns about the lack of space in the nuc. “Would you like me to come over and give you a hand” came the reply and a couple of hours later found the two of us at the bottom of the meadow, alongside mating nuc.four.

Lifting the crown board quickly put my mind at rest as regards disturbing the cluster. The bees were no longer clustered, a fact the activity on each frame bore testimony to. With the two of us on the job, the whole move took little over ten minutes to complete. I had hoped we might see the queen and that I’d have an oportunity to clip and mark her but that wasn’t to be. Possibly if we’d taken a little more time with the move and examined each frame a little more thoroughly we’d have seen her but I was really anxious to keep the disturbance to a minimum and decided to leave the marking for another visit. An abundance of brood and eggs of all stages told me the queen had been performing her duties and the readiness with which the bees adopted their new home told me that she was in residence.

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                  BEE FANNING AT ENTRANCE SAYS QUEEN IS IN RESIDENCE

The presence of drone brood confirmed to me that they may well have looked to swarm at the earliest convenience so I left the meadow pleased that we had taken the decisions we had. The bees in the other half of the mating nuc.hadn’t made it through the winter so the nuc. is now in the shed where it will recieve the blowlamp treatment and a fresh coat of Cuprinol at the first oportunity after which it will be ready to receive this year’s first virgin queens. With this move going so smoothly, I shall look to get the other nuc’s. into hives as soon as the weather permits. This will give the bees best part of a Month in their new hives prior to the move to the new site.

A week now since the nuc. was hived and judging by the activity at the entrance, they seem to be settling in well. Have carried on with the floor changes, it has taken a little longer than usual as I have decided to give each one a coat of Cuprinol this year. This has meant that I’ve only been able to do one a day because obviously I’ve had to wait for each one to dry before pressing it back into service. I’ve been fitting the floor changes in between other jobs I’ve been doing around the apiary so waiting the hasn’t been a problem. The hive stand for the new site is all finished bar the shouting and I’m hoping to have it installed some time next week. I will have by then, hived one if not both of the remaining nucs. so everything should be ready for the move. The floor changes revealed that hives one and four were a little light so they, along with the new hive have been given a gallon of syrup and that’s about it for the moment. I shall plod on with the floors this week and the first really fine day, I’ll hive the second nuc. That my friends, is the plan.

The first day of Spring and as if to celebrate the event, a partial solar eclipse is taking place as I sit here at my keyboard. In fact the room is now so dark that I can barely see to type. At least it’ll provide an excuse for my spelling mestakes, oops!  Happy to report, everything this year, seems to be going to plan so far. I managed to get the second nuc.hived in the week and the occupants seem happy with their new abode. I’ve finished the hive stand for the new site and there are only three floors left to change. I’ll say no more for the moment as I don’t want to tempt fate any further.

A pleasant surprise in the week, A fellow “allotmenteer” had spotted a stainless steel tea urn at a car boot sale and bought it for me. I had mentioned during a conversation with him some time last year, what a messy job syrup making could be and how I thought an urn might make the job easier. I hadn’t given the matter another thought since then so you can imagine my surprise when he opened the boot of his car and presented me with it. “I saw it and remembered that you said wanted one and took the chance that you still did.” he said. A new mains lead and a plug and it’s as good as new, and all for seven pounds. It’s good to have friends isn’t it. To say that I can’t wait to give it a try wouldn’t be entirely truthful but I have really high hopes that it will make the job of syrup making less of a chore, and if it doesn’t, well, it’s only seven quid isn’t it.

Spent a morning delivering Year Books last week, the sun was shining so it was a pleasant task. Made all the more so by the fact that a couple of the recipients were in their gardens so we were able to have a chat and exchange a few ideas. A nice way to spend a morning and the one thing we all agreed on was, “it’s going to be a good year”. As I’ve said before, beekeepers are nothing if not optomists,

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