Last Friday our little group was without a tutor, and so we had a list of instructions – although it’s really nice to have a tutor with us, by the end of the evening we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves for managing a good inspection of our allocated hive, and managing to do everything on the list! So it was beneficial to get to us to sort things out on our own in the end.
The first thing on our list was to make up a new super and 12 frames to go in it. We did slightly cheat on this one, as there was a super of frames going at the apiary already and so we pinched this one to put on the hive. This is good, but also a little annoying as I could actually do with as much practice making frames as possible before the Basic Assessment in August! But with only 5 of us in the group last week it was probably a good thing that we could spend more time with the hive.
Last week we left our hive with 3 supers, one (and a half maybe) of which were looking like they were turning into lovely capped honey frames. We left our hive this week with 3 super totally stuffed full of capped honey frames, and one brand new empty super for them to enjoy. The weather this week has been crazy for the UK – around 34 degrees C – and it’s the middle of June (the solstice was Wednesday), and the bees have been totally making the most of it. We checked only the middle frames of these supers, and it definitely took two of us to carry each one away so that we could get to the brood boxes beneath.
As an aside, I’m planning on being a solo beekeeper, with my partner as an assistant some of the time. I’m a pretty unfit, 5’3” woman – how the hell am I going to lift supers of honey?! I need some tips from seasons beekeepers. Or a stool.
We got into our brood boxes, and saw a lovely pattern of capped brood in the top brood box, although no eggs or larvae really. I think that this in line with the honey flow at this time of year, as they’ve so much time and light to collect all the nectar that the bees have probably slowed down the egg-laying in the hive – but I’m happy to be corrected on this. We did see the Queen in this box, though, so that was nice. Although I put the box back together at the end and a little voice in my head said ‘better not crush the Queen!’ and now I’m a little paranoid…
In the bottom brood box we have all sort going on. I think this is their older box that they overwintered with, so as well as brood it has a couple of frames that seem to just be pollen on both sides. They also have a mixture of stores and brood on each frame – although we did see some pretty nice new brood on one side of the box – those pollen-only frames seem to be in the middle – can they be moved mid-season. And yes, we saw eggs! One member of the group wasn’t sure, and another didn’t have her glasses with her, but I took an executive decision: those were eggs.
So in the end we put everything back together with the new super, and it was a really lovely evening. The bees were pretty chilled out, we didn’t use that much smoke, and we worked really nicely together as a team.
I also paid my fee to take the Basic Exam this year – the exam date is in August, so I really should get revising soon! Things that I need to swot up on:
- how long everything is an egg, larvae etc for
- stages of worker bee jobs
- what’s in flower! I am terrible at this, although it should be the easiest thing in the world.
Wish me luck!