If at first you don’t succeed …

Top left: the state of play in our five hives: brood or no brood; queens spotted; varroa drop; amount of honey to be harvested.
Top right: our two new queens waiting to be inserted into the hives.
Bottom right: it looked like the worker bees were pretty keen on the new queen.

19 August 2017

Our B- and C-hive were both queenless. We tried to insert a new queen (bought from LP Biodling) in the C-hive on 22 July but it quickly turned out she didn’t live long. During an inspection on 12 August, the B-hive too was without a queen. We had found a few queen cells in this hive during previous inspections and removed them plus a few frames of worker bees to a small 6-frame hive (nuc) in the hope they would draw up a new queen. No such luck. We should have left them in – the time for swarming has passed, so perhaps they were in the process of changing the queen silently. You live and learn.

I asked around to see if anyone had a fertilised queen and we ended up buying two from a seasoned beekeeper called Ingemar Åberg, based in Sigtuna at 400 SEK each. We collected and installed them on Thursday night and by Saturday both colonies had released the queens. Here’s hoping they will accept her, that there is no non-fertilised queen left in either hive who will kill her and that the colony will grow strong enough in time to survive the winter.

On the way way from Sigtuna, one of Ingemar’s bees got me in my armpit. Not too bad a sting thank goodness but I’m glad it was me (and that I didn’t drop the two boxes containing the queens) and not Thomas, who was driving.

We seem to be pretty bad at making splits that result in two healthy colonies … This year only one worked – the A-hive is pretty healthy! We’re going to harvest honey tomorrow, but I doubt we’ll get more than 30 kgs. Ah well, better than nothing! After the cold spring, we had very little rain and this seems to affect the honey flow. We have NO apples, cherries or plums this year – also as a result of the night frost in May and lack of pollination.

Varroa drop in the hives varies wildly as well:
A-hive: 18
C-hive: not checked
B-hive: 5
F-hive: 16
E-hive: 28

Our surviving queen from the first year is still laying plenty of eggs – she’s amazing. We’ll have to retire her next year I guess (her 5th year).

 

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