I have been keeping an eye on the hives of late but not messing about with them too much. The weather is flowing inevitability towards autumn and with the shortening of the days comes the slowing down of the hives.
I can no longer inspect (open inspection) the hives after work in the evening. It is just a little too cold for my conscience to allow. That only leaves me with weekends to open them up, and the weather in Yorkshire is…. unreliable.
This hive swarmed whilst I was on holiday and I have been waiting for signs of a laying queen. Whenever I have tried to inspect this usually placid colony has been extremely reactionary. A change in temperament like this was not a good sign but I hoped for the best. The activity in this hive however has continued to drop off. I managed to fully inspect the hive this weekend and things really don’t look good. There was the crack of propolys on opening, a further sign of the march towards winter. Once open the bees gave me no trouble and appeared listless. There were bands on honey at the top of 22 combs and I removed any empty to reduce the hive to a more manageable size for them.
I have never been a whiz at queen spotting but this hive’s queen (and her daughters) are particularly hard to spot. Their markings have all been VERY similar to the workers and are all quite skinny. Still I looked hard and found not a monarch.
The brood pattern was spotty and very bumpy suggesting drones. Whether this is a drone laying queen or a laying worker at this stage I think it is unimportant.
You get an idea of how they feel from this comb really. Queen cup anyone? I fear I may have to shake these bees out in front of another hive one evening so they can find a new queenright home. It is just too late in the year for a brood transfer.
It might not be summer anymore but someone forgot to tell these girls. On Sunday it was grey and overcast with a little mist in the air. Boudica’s hive was as busy Heathrow on a bank holiday.
Opening up I notice there were still a few squatters in residence. I am afraid I had to well and truly block their route of entry this time as I will be putting the insulation board in later this week.
On opening the hive I noticed the propolys was still very soft and sticky. The colony is obviously having no trouble maintaining a good temperature. The bees were still festooning in places suggesting comb building is still underway. There is still a solid brood pattern and fresh eggs.
I removed the remainder of the comb from the brewery bees. You can see in the picture below how they chewed down the comb to expose the larvae. This reduced the hive to 18 bars. Not all of the bars are fully built out so they should have plenty of space for the rest of autumn but not too much to keep warm in winter.
All in all I am really pleased with this colony. After the shaky start we had we are getting on well and the bees are doing well.
I ended up with quite a bit of empty comb from both hives. Any good empty comb I placed behind the follower boards to help out next year. I only removed the comb that was very old, wonky or had high drone cell content.
My wife has a fancy to make lip balm but we shall see! Next update on Warré hives in a few days…yes… I said hive’s’!