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John the BeeMan's Blog - mid Mar 2014 - First inspections of the season

The first inspection

This is always an exciting time after 5 to 6 months wondering what's happening within our hives.   Are they healthy and do they have plenty of food?   Even, are they alive and thriving?

The weekend of the 8th & 9th of March was perfect for this.   I'm very pleased to report that all 7 of my colonies are in fine fettle with loads of bright yellow pollen stored recently, together with both new and leftover honey.   There was some pale grey pollen coming in that might have been from 'hellebore'.

Yellow pollen
... and being collected
Yellow pollen probably from Pussy Willow stored in a brood frame
... and being collected

All colonies had open and sealed brood ranging from 2 to 3 frames per colony, although one was slightly weaker with only one frame.   Most colonies had eaten varying amounts of the pollen substitute, 2 had finished a complete kilo pack.   Because they had collected so much natural pollen and also had plenty of stores, I took all solid feed packets off and sealed them up for future use.

I scraped the build-up of propolis from the Hoffman spacer sides of all the brood frames to ensure that they fitted into the brood boxes without difficulty.

Good brood for March
Nektapol packet half eaten
Good brood for March
Nektapol packet half eaten

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Plans for the next Inspection

Most of the brood chambers were quite mucky with propolis and brace comb, so I will prepare/clean my spare boxes and floors, as I will transfer all colonies to these to start the season well.   This will include new frames with foundation or freshly drawn comb to replace old black frames.

My kit ready for inspections
My file for hive recording, Q marking pen and spare food
My kit ready for inspections
My file for hive recording, Q marking pen and spare food

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Flowers for the Bees to look out for!

Crocus is still out, although not for long.   Apple, hazel and dandelion will see the bees into April.

Crocuses
Catkins
Crocuses
Catkins

Future Report will Include:

From now onwards I hope to record the build-up of each colony.   I might have to swap round the 2 WBC hives to help the weak one.   The effect should level the strength of the colonies because the more numerous foragers from the strong hive will boost the weaker one.

I will mention the likely forage that can be expected during the following weeks.

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