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2015 Bee Report

September 7, 2016

By early April 2015, I was back down to two colonies. The weaker of the three colonies that went into the winter, at the end of the ivy flow in October 2014, never made it. I strongly suspect that the failed colony went into the main winter period, queenless – probably as a result of a failed supercedure/badly mated queen. Regardless, by mid-April 2015, I had two strong colonies only, one in a wooden national and one in a poly langstroth. My ‘spare’ wooden national was set up as a bait hive. This last point is important as both surviving colonies swarmed (lack of inspection on my part!), within 4 days of each other, around mid-May. In the first case, the primary swarm ended up in the bait hive, in the second case, I caught them on a bush (see below). Both allowed me to re-house the swarms in newly acquired poly-langstroths.

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May swarm

Post-swarming, I reduced both of the original colonies to a single queen cell, to prevent further swarming/throwing of castes; naturally, I also re-checked for QCs a week-or-so later, to ensure the bees agreed with my plan. I thought t they did but, of course, I missed one QC, which ended causing a caste to be thrown before the end of May. This small caste went into a national nuc.

So, by the end of May 2015, I had 5 colonies on the go – three in poly langstroths, one in a wooden national, and one in a wooden national nuc. This is pretty much how the season ended up too. In August, the bees from the [bursting at the seams] nuc, went into a third langstroth poly, meaning I went into the winter with 5 strong-ish colonies, across 4 poly langstroths and one wooden national.

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3 poly langstroth, 1 wooden national and 1 wooden national-nuc. June 2015.

There were, of course, some additional dramas on the way, including an additional swarm and subsequent re-combining, but no need to cover that here, as all ended up well, with no colonies escaping!

On the honey front, I harvested several supers-worth of honey in late August, and netted some 50 odd jars (of varying sizes). I invested in my own 3 frame tangential, hand-cranked, extractor too (read “cheap”!). My filtering was rough and my packaging even worse – I used a bunch of second-had jars, and found that the honey crystallised quickly, leaving me with a surplus of near rock-hard honey that was almost impossible to sell. Home use only then! Lessons to be learned going into 2016…

 

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