I thought some might find the following hive story interesting. This is about a 3 year old hive (no treatment) which suffered terrible varroasis last year, deformed wing virus (sick bees all over the ground), nosema at the start of this year … oh a small amount of chalk brood. I didn’t think they would make it, and I was questioning my natural beekeeping instincts.
I decided to just try and ‘feel’ the bees and make some changes. I changed the ventilation, moved it a few feet (just gut feeling) replaced the mesh floor with a solid floor and fed about 2kg of honey (from our hives) to help it get through the ‘second winter’ we had. Since then it has gone from strength to strength.
It threw a massive swarm on Sunday (July 15th). So large the branch it landed on snapped. Easiest swarm I have caught – just picked up the branch. They are so strong and no signs of struggling with varroa, dfw virus or chalk brood. It’s good to see them bounce back when left to their own devices and a bit of honey.
Interestingly before the swarm on July 5th it had two capped queen cells by a window. This hive attempted its first swarmed that day, but returned (did not settle). 5 days later they tried again and returned (after being housed in a new home for 5 min … I assume the queen never went in.
On Saturday 14th July (the day I expect queens to start appearing) they swarmed at 3:30pm as soon as it stopped raining. That night I heard a piping queen, so it seems like the collision of old and new queens was just avoided.
July 17th I saw a virgin queen by the queen cells but they were still capped twelve days after capping! They didn’t emerge until July 18th. It appeared as if the bees had made the end caps thicker as they had a growing ridge. It made me wonder if ‘entombing’ is a method of extending the queen cell life cycle during bad weather or a house bound old queen about ?
There is more to this story … but this post is long enough for now.
Jonathan Frome, Somerset