We had some rape
honey this year albeit only a small amount but rape honey
never-the-less. With judicious blending and seeding this could give
a year’s supply of creamed honey.
Seeding? You warm
and clear a tub of honey and then when it’s cool you add 10% of a
creamed honey which has a nice smooth consistency. Provided the
cleared honey would have eventually crystalised this will now do so
at a much faster rate and with the same consistency as the seeding
All bar two of my
2018 queened colonies needed artificial swarming due probably to the
weather. These were successfully completed but it did mean several
under-strength colonies and a lot of hives. Combine this with the
swarms I’d had to take and I was approaching my hive-insurance
At least four virgin
queens failed to return from mating flights. I don’t know why I
should be so prone to this problem. Any ideas? Inserting test
frames and allowing them to develop emergency queens did allow a
temporary solution. Not the best, admittedly, but a later
supersedure would then correct the problem.
The June gap was
much more noticeable this year and spanned the entire month. I can
measure it by the amount of bee activity at the pond. In the absence
of nectar to evaporate down, the colonies need water as a substitute
liquid for their air conditioning.
It is now the end of
the month and the swarm colonies are being united down to a sensible
number before an end of season unite with my selected queen colonies.
Two of them had somehow rendered themselves queenless so a quick
test frame and they were united with the colony alongside. This was
done with the newspaper method to mask the colony odour as they
Hive number 6 is without doubt the best producing this year. No artificial swarm was needed the the queen continued with copious laying. As I write, I have already extracted 5½ supers and there is still much to come
This month sees the start of foraging in earnest and also the start of swarming.
Although the oil seed rape was only just down the road the bees only worked it for pollen. The bees foraging for nectar went in the opposite direction. I am now beginning to wonder if modern varieties of rape have significantly reduced amounts of nectar.
Whatever it was they preferred, half the hives worked it vigorously. One hive got up to four supers and the others to two or three.
The colonies which only just made it through the winter have struggled to reach supering size but as two of these have 2016 queens and will be requeened this season.
The first swarm I was called to remove was a poor little bedraggled specimen hanging from a tree near Thaxted Fire Station. It had been there several days and was trying to set up home out in the open.
It was nearly dark when I arrived so it had to wait until the next morning; a night of torrential rain and it was still raining next day. Half of them had been washed down in the night and were comatose mixed in with the recent lawn mowings. It was a ladder job to reach the little swarm and I then swept up as many as I could from the ground hoping that once they were returned to the bosom of their family they would become resuscitated. This did in fact work and most of them recovered. They were a pathetic little bunch when they were eventually hived; just over one frame of 14 x12 in a nucleus hive.
The rape finished flowering two weeks ago and any resulting honey would normally have started crystallizing by now. It’s all still clear which again leads me to conclude that the nectar came from elsewhere. The eventual analysis will be interesting.
I’ve had to perform three Pagden artificial swarms so far with another one to do this week. At the same time as creating the artificial swarm I also take a two-frame nucleus with a queen cell so I have a second string to my bow in the event of a loss on mating flight. The apiary is getting rather crowded now with sixteen hives.