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[quote="KarenE"What will you do next year when they swarm again?[/quote]
A queen can live for about 3 years. Some beekeepers like to replace their Queens every year to ensure a good fertile colony. One way of doing this is to create an artificial swarm, or in my case capture your own swarm, make sure there is a new queen in the old hive, then kill the old queen and reintroduce the swarmed bees to the old hive.Sounds harsh, but in the end is probably best for the colony as a whole.
No I think it is just for better ventilation.
Somehow, I have gone from one hive to three hives and a nucleus box in a matter of weeks. I need to work out which have got strong Queens in and then combine to just one or two hives - see my last post.
I've just found and read through this whole thread - really interesting. I have two top bar hives and will enjoy comparing your experiences to mine. I love the way you are 'in it for the bees' rather than making honey your absolute goal. Is your original colony still making queens? What will you do with your cast swarms?
And to everyone out there who thinks that 'one chicken leads to another', well 'one hive leads to another' too!
Let's hope for a good summer and strong colonies.
How are your top bar hives doing? I've heard a lot about them and particularly about them being used in developing countries.
Currently I am struggling with too many hives and not enough queens. I did an inspection tonight and found brood in some but not others. A sign that I need to combine the queenless hives.
I will let you know how I get on.
Bees, bees and more bees
I inspected my hives today. I have gone from one hive that over wintered to four now. They are all doing well, though I am sure experienced any experienced beekeeper will spot my problem. Far better to have two strong hives making honey than four just building the colony.
Early Summer Feeding
I am now into my second year of beekeeping and I reckon that to become half proficient a new starter like my self will take at least 3 years. There's so much to learn and bees are wild animals, who to a large extent, will do as they please not as you would like them to do.
One of my hives doesn't have a lot of bees, and in the period between the spring flowers finishing and the summer flowers being in full bloom, there is a danger they may starve. So, believe it or not, I will have to feed this lot or risk losing them altogether. I made up my sugar solution this morning, left it to cool, and will put it in the hive late in the afternoon when I do my weekly inspection.
Exciting (or nerve wrecking) stuff this beekeeping lark
I inspected the hives this evening. I spotted a queen a queen in a couple of them but was only quick enough to capture and mark one.
In a colony of thousands of bees, there is only one queen, so spotting her can be a bit of a problem. A dab of water-based paint on her back makes her easier to spot. Tonight was he first time I have actually handled a queen and so was a bit concerned I might damage her in my clumsy hands. I have heard that a colony will reject a damaged queen so handling her gently is essential. Hopefully, my queen has not been damaged or too traumatised by my handling. I popped her back on top of the frames and she quickly dived back in; looks like no permanent damage done.
I would encourage anyone thinking of taking up beekeeping to join their local beekeeping association. For one thing, you get 3rd party insurance, which is useful enough. The other thing that they do is encourage the education of beekeepers.
My local association ran a basic beekeeping course in the spring but in order to get the certificate, I need to do the exam. Just confirmed my exam for the end of July. Really looking forward to it. I just love this beekeeping buzz.
Hi. Quick update on my top bar hives.
One colony is building comb like fury - they've only been there 5 weeks and are already busy on bar 10. Lovely straight comb, but I believe it usually is in the first year. No worries there for the moment.
My other colony was a very small swarm and over the weeks dwindled appreciably with no sign of eggs or brood although the bees were bringing in pollen and nectar. I was told to give it 5 weeks before taking any action just to be sure that there was no chance of a laying queen. After five and a half weeks I did one final inspection, absolutely definitely no queen, so I have combined the two hives by putting the weaker colony behind the stronger. Hopefully the remaining bees will be happier with this - they had started to build something resembling queen cups which was rather heartbreaking considering there was no chance of any eggs.
Good luck with the exam. I'm a beekeeping course junkie and like you... I just love this beekeeping buzz!
Have you totally switched to top bar hives or this an experiment while you still keep traditional type hives?
My understanding is that top bar hives were invented for developing countries, being cheaper and easier to construct.
I am thinking of working with a few foundationless frames next year, if only to see the difference in how the bees draw out the comb.
Great to see you enjoying it so much fabs.
So glad you have Bridgets Mum for company
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Some how I ended up with bees in three hives and a small 'nucleus' box. I am manged to get down to just the three hives now and plan to reduce it further down to two for the winter.
I inspected the bees tonight and found loads of new health brood, a good sign all is going well. Still not sure if I will get much honey this year but that's not the challenge at the moment. More focused on learning as much as I can about beekeeping. The honey will come in good time.
Beekeeping Basic Assessment
Had confirmation today I have passed my British Beekeepers Association Basic assessment. Means I can go on to do other qualifications with the BBKA. Doesn't mean to say I know what I am doing
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