Oxford Bees

Colony 13

A final reorganisation for Colony 13

Submitted by will on Sun, 08/07/2018 - 08:23

This morning I worked on colony 13. I hope that this is the last time I have to make a significant reorganisation of their hive. I hope that I've corrected for the mistakes and difficulties which developed from having a nucleus roof with comb attached.

This is a summary of the colony before and after I did the work this morning:

Before After
  roof
roof crown board
crown board C Hive body
empty super containing comb cut from the nucleus roof Ashforth feeder containing comb cut from nucleus roof
B Hive body (including Queen and brood) empty super containing frames
queen excluder queen excluder
C Hive body B Hive Body (including Queen and brood)

The main problem before the reorganisation was that the brood nest was above the Queen excluder and so on the wrong side for Queens and Drones to leave the hive. Another possible problem was that the brood nest was too far away from the hive entrance. I have seen that brood nests which are too far away from the entrance may be more vulnerable to robbing. This happened to Colony 9.

I thought through my operations carefully before I started work. Even then, I initially left the queen excluder in the wrong place. I moved the B Hive body and the super above it off the hive. I then removed C Hive body and replaced it with the B Hive body.

When I had chopped the comb out of the nucleus roof I had laid it flat in the super above the B Hive body. All the brood had hatched from this so I scraped it off the top bars and put it into the feeder box.

I assembled hive with an empty super above the brood nest. I hope that the bees will move the honey down from the feeder box and from the comb in C Hive body into this super. We'll see whether that happens.

Colony 13 has gone

Submitted by will on Sat, 16/06/2018 - 07:44

I peeked at Colony 13 inside Hive H. There is nothing there: no comb and no cluster of bees.

I was uncertain whether there was a Queen after I'd found a dead Queen in the swarm box. I had put on a feeder on to stimulate them but I'd seen robbing in progress from Colony 11. It appears that robbing is all that's going on.

I don't know what has happened to the bees which I put into the hive. They may have dispersed to the other colonies on the roof.

When the feeder is completely empty I'll be able to see what is left.

Tags
Submitted by will on Wed, 13/06/2018 - 06:46

I don't hold much expectation that Colony 13 will thrive. It is a small colony and vulnerable. It is building comb, but I still don't know whether there is a Queen. I haven't opened the hive. I've only looked at the hive floor, where there were wax platelets.

I had put a feeder on the hive a couple of days ago. My intention was that they should use he feed to build comb and concentrate on growing larger numbers of brood. There isn't much forage around and this is a small colony.

The consequence, predictably, is robbing. Colony 11 can clearly be seen flying between the hives. This doesn't have to be a short term problem as long as there is food in the feeder. In the longer term I may need to move the hive.

There are also wasps around now. The conditions are getting tougher.

Submitted by will on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 21:52

This afternoon I returned to the box within a box which contained Colony 13.

It was placed with it's opening almost directly in front of Hive H. How could they not be delighted with the hive and march straight in. Perhaps the bees had other things going on. I decided to act.

I brought a large white board up to the mouth of the hive and bridged it with white paper card. I then carefully removed the inner box and shook it onto the board. To my dismay the bees started going over the edge of the board but not into the mouth of the hive.

I took the bee brush and brushed some towards the hive mouth. All of a sudden the march into the hive  began. A stream of bees walked in, leaving some behind to fan the signal where they were. Hived!

Hived? There was a striking bee corpse on the white board. It was a Queen. She was larger than the others and had the distinctive rounded thorax (middle part of her body) and longer abdomen. Some bees clustered around her.

I moved her body onto a piece of white paper on top of the hive. Then I went away to eat. The bees were  gathering on the paper and flying wildly around. I went back to the hive and put the corpse and the paper into the body of the hive. Within a few minutes almost all flying had ceased.

My bee group says that it's not uncommon for a cast to have more than one virgin Queen. Prime swarms are led by the old Queen and are very unlikely to have any other Queens with them. Virgin Queens will fight, so perhaps this Queen was killed by a rival. She didn't appear to be damaged, but the double box arrangement was not a good idea.

Later the same evening I put a hive strap on to the hive and took it down to central Oxford. It'll take a few days to find out whether this swarm will survive. I don't have much expectation if it's a small-ish cast swarm in June.

Submitted by will on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 16:00

I was called today to an unusual situation: a swarm on the pavement outside a house on a fairly busy street. When I arrived the bees were like a splat on the ground. They were next to a low Privet hedge, so I suppose that they'd fallen out of that.

I spoke to the house owner and got a box. This covered the splat while I went for my swarm catching equipment. When I returned they had started to cluster on a flap beneath the box. I had brought a larger box so I carefully placed small box with bees inside the big box.

I moved the big box off the splat site and laid it on its side. The unboxed bees started to march inside. Some stayed to fan the direction to the others. It was all very orderly; very calm.

Once enough bees were inside I gently closed the flaps and took the box home. I'd spent less than 45 minutes, including getting my equipment. At home, I propped the big box next to the entrance to Hive H. When I get home they may have marched into the hive; they may have found somewhere better; or they may still be there.

The source of the swarm is unclear. I've been called to other swarms on the same road so either someone is keeping or there is a feral colony along the street. It could be either.