Strong Bee colonies after a warm start to spring
I inspected all my colonies today. Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of week it will probably be too cool to open any hives, so wanted to get them all done today. All of them have had a fantastic start to the year. With sealed brood covering up to 14 sides on the deep frames and 6/8 sides on shallow frames. Many of the supers I put on are now full of honey and the bees are just starting to cap the honey. With the first flowers just starting to come out on our Oil Seed Rape, I am hoping this cooler weather might hold the OSR back from blooming too soon. I have 5 hives with each a super full of honey in place, so I have added another super underneath the original ones. My idea here, is that the bees will continue to reduce the water content in the stored nectar, then cap it and this will be free of OSR nectar. The new supers added are now closest to the brood box and any OSR nectar will go into these frames first. Well that is the plan !!
I am hopeless at finding my queens, but found two today and managed to mark one of them. The other one, as I reached for the queen cage, disappeared and though I search every frame again, I just could not find her. It is essential I find each one, as all are new queens last year and none are marked. It makes it so much easier splitting hives to prevent swarming, if you can locate the queen easily. I will continue to endevour to find them at my next inspection. There is still very little drone brood in any of the hives and this may be why I have not seen the start of any queen cells. Pointless producing a new queen if she has no boys to mate with. The shallow frames I placed in the main brood box, have had some comb built along the bottom bars, but this has worker bee larvae and capped brood in it. In one hive I found they had started building drone comb. In the image you can see the cell sizes are larger than for worker brood.
I am pleased to write that I saw no varroa mite or any deformed bees. So I think my autumn treatments worked well.
As I had a camera with me, I took some photos of eggs layed in the cells. You can see the tiny rice shaped egg attached to the back wall of the cell in the photograph. You will also notice the changes in size of the larvae across the photograph. Eggs at the top, with larvae getting larger towards the bottom of the photograph. I also manage to take a photo of a worker bee emerging from its cell. You can see its immature body is covered in grey hairs. I didn’t get a photo of the queen marking, as marking her was too important. I need someone else with me to get that shot.