Now in its third third summer and in three of four boxes we decided it was time to have a go taking a box off one of our warre hives as the top two both seemed chock full of capped comb through the viewing windows and had been all year. The the hive itself had swarmed at least once in June and currently seemed to be in the throes of a mini honey flow and had ejected most drones over the last week.
Having not done this before we were hoping that as of today (30 August) the brood should have moved to the lower boxes and we would be able to snaffle the top one with minimum off fuss. We planned the event with military precision & had made a matching octagonal escape box to immediately place the hive box on removal – this had half a dozen escape cones built into the roof to allow any bees inside to escape back to the mother ship – that was the theory anyway.
On removal we could see that there were a lot of bees in it and in particular clustering near the base of the box – on examination a large area had capped brood on the lower parts of the combs. We immediately returned the box to the hive, affixed a new cover and replaced the quilt while besieged by a furious mob of bees – this hive is normally extremely placid.
it seems virtually impossible to predict the right time to harvest a warre without causing some major issue in the hive – did we attempt this too early? Heaf mentions “early autumn” as a good time. This hive was started from a caught swarm in 2011 and this is the first time we have laid hands on its internals since then.
I guess in reality every hive has a different character, work ethos and housekeeping habits so it will always be a bit hit & miss judging the right time…..
Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated…