Oxford Bees

Colony 17

Colony 17 building comb

Submitted by will on Mon, 10/06/2019 - 05:30

A quick check under the Varroa screen of Colony 17 showed that the bees are building comb. There were shiny wax platelets in a shower where under where they've clustered. There is also evidence that they're cleaning out other parts of the hive. I found 2 dead wax moth larvae and some other detritus.

It's still too soon to see whether they do have a Queen in there. I tried the 'knock test' -- to see whether they remain agitated after a knock on the side of the hive -- but it was inconclusive.

Tags

Feeding Colony 17

Submitted by will on Sat, 08/06/2019 - 05:52

I don't usually feed my colonies. I'm especially cautious about feeding swarms because they arrive with honey which can contain spores from a variety of diseases including the devastating American Foulbrood. The usual advice is to leave the bees alone for a week. They will build comb and use up the honey which they arrive with.

When I put Colony 17 into their Commercial hive body I had too few full-sized frames. I increased the number by putting in shallow frames from a super. Yesterday I quickly opened the hive to replace the shallow frames with full-sized deep frames.

It was quite cold yesterday, with the temperature only briefly climbing above 13C. The colony was clustered in one corner; there were very few flying bees; there was no sign of comb building. Had they run out of stores? There is still forage around -- the wild roses are in bloom and the Elder -- but we are approaching the 'June Gap'.

I decided to feed them with sugar. They discovered it very quickly. I hope that it will replenish their energy so that they can forage when conditions improve. I don't like feeding because it may disrupt the normal behaviour of the bees. On this occasion I've relented.

Colony 17 arrives

Submitted by will on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 06:05

I was called by Mary, a member of my group. She had caught a swarm from her top-bar hive in Headington. She kindly offered me the swarm, knowing how much I value untreated colonies.

The swarm is from a colony which Mary has kept, untreated, for about 2 years in a Top Bar Hive. Before that they came from a feral swarm somewhere near Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire.

I took the swarm down to central Oxford in the early morning and walked them in. They went in very willingly. The swarm was a reasonable size. I didn't see the Queen going in.

They seemed agitated in their box. Every movement causing them to buzz loudly. This might be a sign that they are not Queen-right (ie they have lost their Queen). A knock on the hive wall is the usual way to test whether they have their Queen. They'll buzz but calm down quickly if they do have a queen. I think that they'll need to be left for at least a week before I do that test.