I'm now in the position that 6 out of my 7 colonies have this year's queens, so my regular inspections are mainly checking the storage space for honey, leaving the brood chamber alone.
The lime trees are now in flower, combined with the blackberries, there should be a big flow for at least the next 2 weeks.
The last week has been action stations for those of us who collect swarms. The phone has been ringing. I was called to one in East Finchley, high up in a tree. My technique is to use 2 lengths of 2” x 1” batten, strapped together with duct tape with a cardboard box fixed to the top. I can reach up to 20 feet (6m) with this. Within 40 minutes all the bees were in my swarm box. I called later in the evening to collect it and as darkness fell on the Cemetery, I dumped it into a nuc box. 3 days later I went to feed it, only to find plenty of stores already collected together with laid eggs.
I had 3 suitably filled supers, so I applied clearer boards with “Porter Escapes” and have extracted 50lbs of honey which will keep my customers with hay fever happy. I sold all my last year’s honey at the “Fair in the Square” last Saturday.
My Checks this week
I only assessed the supers throughout, adding extra ones where needed. With the part filled supers, I change the frames around, so that the empty ones are central and the full at the sides, this helps achieve maximum use. I was surprised that all the Cemetery colonies still had enough space for this coming week’s forage, so I’ve still got 3 empty supers. The Murphy colonies each required an extra super each.
I am planning to unite the swarm with the nuc colony once I have assessed their temperament. The Murphy nuc is not needed by the Maidenhead depot as planned, so is surplus. It may come handy for the future!
Follow-up on Laying Workers
Once established, there are no ways that new queens can be introduced, let alone queen cells. The only way seems to be uniting them with another queen-right colony, but not in the usual method.
If the problem is a drone laying queen, simply remove the queen and replace her with another one.
The lime and blackberry should continue for a week or two, but there may be little else to look forward to. So, if you extract the honey when they have finished, make sure that your bees don’t starve. During this period in the last 2 years, most of us had to feed syrup in August, so beware!
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