Season Preparation lecture 2

Swarming – important to manage swarming as you will then have more honey.

A huge cloud of bees that then settle. A few minutes later they take off to a permanent home. The first setting will be on a  low branch.

A prime swarm – first swarm with the old queen and lots of bees.

Caste – smaller groups.

Queen cups – these are normal and not to worry.

Queen cell – look like peanuts (3cm long and 1cm wide).

Scout bees will be sent out to look for somewhere to go.

When – April – July. Around noon. When the first queen cell has been capped.

Triggers – primary reason is overcrowding.

Others –

  • lack of ventilation
  • lack of space for nectar flow
  • not enough space for queen to lay
  • too many nurse bees for the number of larvae.
  • too many wax makers

Overcrowding causes a lack of the queen pheronome – queen died or old queen.

Indicators of no queen:

  • no eggs
  • emergency queen cells
  • may be no capped brood

Leave 2/3 close together and leave for up to 3 weeks.

No queen – usually July/Aug

  • Supercede queen cells
  • Full size queen cell and not many.
  • All stages of brood
  • Let them manange it – the old and new queen can live together.

How delay

  • March/April – remove all damaged frames
  • Remove frames with winter stores
  • Remove frames with lots of drones
  • Mark queen
  • Inspect every 7 days – look for increasing drones and queen cells. Place super ahead of the need. Ventilation important in hot weather so remove the entrance block. You can sue a super as a brood box.
  • Reactive – if see queen cells.
    • Can you see eggs if not then they have already swarmed.(leave 2/3 cells and leave for 3 weeks)
    • If eggs then sue the swarm control method.

Adrian Waring Swarm Control method

Found lots of queen cells and eggs/early larvae.

  • Find a good queen cell.
  • Have a spare brood box.
    Knock bees off frames and move to a new box (leave the queen). Include frames with lots of small larvae and brood in all stages.
  • Frame with the queen cell – brush off 50-75% of the bees (make sure queen is off) and move to the new brood box. Move 3 queen cells over.
  • Leave most bees in original hive.
  • Put empty new frames into the original hive
  • Original hive – flying bees, queen, 1 frame of open brood.
  • New box – all brood, no bees, queen cells. Leave for 3 weeks.
  • Put the original hive back together
  • Note – flying bees will fly back to the original hive.
  • Consider if the new hive has enough stores? usually yes but you could feed. You need to feed after flying bees have left (usually a few hours after separation).


Drones – They have congregation areas and drones will move around colonies and can travel up to 8 miles.

If away for 2 weeks between April and June – make sure there is enough space and put extra supers on.

Super – add one when there is 5 good frames of brood


Season Preparation Lecture 1

The lecture today was to give information about preparation for the next few months.

Jan, Feb and March – these are the biggest risks for starvation. The bees have been consuming more food this year as with the winter being mild then the bees having been flying.  March is the biggest risk.

It is important to get an idea on how much stores you have left – heft your hive. life it up – if it is easy to lift then they will be low on food. If hard to lift then probably ok.

It is also important to make sure they are still alive – put head on crownboard and listen for buzzing. Also can tap the side of the bix ans you should hear some buzz. If you tap and there is no buzzing – prize off the crownboard and look. If they are moving then good but if not then may have a dead colony. 5-10% of colonies fail. If failed – remove to shed/garage and seal up.

it is normal for dead bees to have been thrown out but if drones then an indicator that the queen has failed.

Feed – give the bees some fondant icing as the bees will treat it as stores. Place it over the hole on the crownboard. Check it once a month and keep going until oil seed rape is in flower. Look where the bees are and place the fondant icing over the cluster. If needs be move the crownboard around.

On mild day (8c) you will see bees flying but only to empty themselves and collect nectar.

March –

10c – there will be flying bees.

Remove the mouseguard.

If you did not treat for varoea in the autumn then treat now but would need to be apistan. Treat as a nuc (half of the recommended amount)

15c – get flying bees and now is the time for the first inspection. Go from edge and just looking for brood. Be less than 5 mins. Just need to see if queen is laying. Move the frames of brood to where the bees are. If there is no brood or predominately drone brood then unlikely to survive.

March/April – you will need spare equipment available to prevent swarm (spare hive or super).

April – Don’t mark queen on the first inspection – do when the drones are in the colony but best early in the season.

If you are still usung nuc frames – move the old frames to the edge of the box and then remove once no brood.

If lots of drone brood – remove the frame as they will just keep producing drone brood there.

Frames with brood – move 3 frames to the end of the brood frames. If you remove 3 frames then feed with sugar syrup but no super.

Once got 5-7 frames of brood then need to add the super. You will start the season with 5 frames of brood. If you have a week colony – you will have 2-3 frames of brood. By mid April the colony should be bigger than the nuc size colony.

You will get a mid spring dwindle – bees from the winter will be 5 months old so will end with up lots of dead bees.

By mid april – should  have queen excluder and 2 supers. The super with drawn foundation should be closes to the brood.

7 day inspection from April.

Swarms – usually from May but can be April.

Weak colony- only have 2/3 frames of brood by mid April. By mid April – the colony should be bigger that you got as a nuc. Be aware you will get a spring dwindle where bees from the winter will be 5 months old so will get lots of dead bees.

By mid April – queen excluder and 2 supers. The frames with drawn foundation need to be nearest the bees.

Autopsy of a dead colony

Take inside a garage. look at the bees that have been thrown out. Check if a mouse was in the hive. Block it up.

Signs that died from starvation – heads inside the cells.

Chronic beer paralysis – black and orange body – stress.

Signs that the colony will die:

  • aggressive colony.
  • produced new queen in Sept.
  • Fed but they were not keen to take food.