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John the BeeMan's Blog - mid June 2014 - Uniting Nucs, Honey Extraction & Laying Workers

Around my Apiaries

I had 2 newly laying queens, bred from queen cells from swarming colonies.   I had put them into nuc boxes and as they had settled into the queen’s role, I introduced them into colonies that had tried to swarm, but their queens were clipped, so I lost the queens but not the workers.   I stripped out all signs of queen cells/cups and united the nucs + the queens using the newspaper method.   Both successfully.

I show below how I do this horizontally.   It works every time.

Stage 1 – newspaper separation inserted
Stage 2 – frames from nuc with queen inserted
Stage 1 – newspaper separation inserted
Stage 2 – frames from nuc with queen inserted
Stage 3 – final paper over the frames + queen excluder
Next day – chewed up paper under hive
Stage 3 – final paper over the frames + queen excluder
Next day – chewed up paper under hive

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.

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Swarms Ahoy

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.


Honey extraction

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.

Super barrow! (actually a builder’s brick barrow)
My grand-daughter & son-in-law visit my bees
Super barrow! (actually a builder’s brick barrow)
My grand-daughter & son-in-law visit my bees

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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!

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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.

  1. Move the effected colony close to a queen-right one until they are about 3' apart. Leave there for a few days to allow the bees to get orientated.
  2. Move the effected colony well away, at least 15', and let the flying bees find their way home, into the Q-r.
  3. After about 20 to 30 minutes, shake all the remaining bees onto the ground and most of them will also find their way back.   The general idea is that the workers that are laying probably won’t have been flying recently and therefore don’t know where they are.

If the problem is a drone laying queen, simply remove the queen and replace her with another one.

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Forage?

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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