From seven hives to five …

Top left: containers with mossy water, very popular in early May
Top right: frame with healthy brood, early May
Bottom left: some blue pollen, from the Siberian squill bulbs
Bottom right: our bees supplies stored in the new garage

Top left: How shall we tackle this split?
Top right: Our three year old queen, still going strong
Bottom left: A newly marked queen, bought last year but never seen
Bottom right: Five hives, post split

1 June 2017

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog post: much has happened since the beginning of “spring” which was exceptionally cold this year. Even though all our colonies survived the winter one – admittedly fairly weak – colony died in April, and another one did not thrive at all in its new location after we sold it; we had to replace it. So we lost one, sold two, replaced one of those with one of our own, which meant that up until last Sunday, 28 May, we had just 3 hives in the front yard.

We sold two colonies to a local beekeeper. He was interested in the wooden hives (which we have found a little harder to work with, as they are so much heavier than the styrofoam ones). The colonies in these wooden hives (bought from Cecilia last year) were less than a pleasure to work with, which he said he didn’t mind. One of them was downright aggressive so I was pretty pleased to see it go. The aggressive one survived the move and is thriving, the other one didn’t really get back to strength after the winter and we gave the buyer another 10 frames and queen to replace it.

We were then left with:

  • Hive A (bought from Laila last year and a really productive hive, both from a bee and a honey point of view). This year again, it’s just rearing to go, even though we lost the queen last year and replaced it with a new one. We split this hive last Sunday because it was so lively and seemed ready for a split.
  • Hive C, containing our original colony bought 2 years ago, with the original queen. She’s still going strong but we did find one fairly developed queen cell, so we split this colony as well last Sunday.
  • Hive B (bought from Cecilia last year; fairly productive colony). We finally spotted the queen in this hive and marked it!

We decided to use the same method for making the splits as we did two years ago: move the old queen to a new location and leave the bulk of the colony behind in the old location. Last year, we moved a few splits (with queen cells) to new locations behind the house and on the balconies, but it was never really successful except with one colony in a nuc – but that was also the one that died in April. So we went back to Plan A.

It is always such a pleasure to see the colonies come back to life. In the beginning of May, they were incredibly keen to find water; even though I put out 3 containers with moss which I fill up with water, they were all over exposed soil in the garden. (I have prepared a few areas for sowing wild flower seeds, but had to wait until well into May to sow the seeds because we had night frost until mid-May). I spotted some blue pollen in the frames, which is from the Siberian squill flowering all around us in May, apparently.

We added our first honey super on Hive A on 19 May and added one more to that colony and Hive C and B on 28 May.

We had a new garage built over the winter and now we can store all our bee supplies in there, instead of the cellar of the house, which is a huge improvement during inspections.

Let’s hope the rest of the spring and the coming summer will be kind to our bees. We’re looking for a new group of Syrian new arrivals as all our NewBees from last year have moved away from Stockholm. Watch this space!

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