Oxford Bees


Drones emerging from Colony 1

Submitted by will on Sat, 30/03/2019 - 14:30

Today I've seen several drones around Colony 1. This shouldn't be a surprise. April is swarming season so colonies which are preparing to swarm will be rearing Queens.

The drones have fully formed wings but appear to be unable to fly. I've found a few just walking around. I threw them into the air but they didn't fly. They might be suffering from a paralysing virus.

Early drones may be more likely to be affected by Varroa infestation because there are fewer of drone larvae early in the season, and the Varroa viral load can be more concentrated.

Making space for Drones part 2

Submitted by will on Wed, 10/05/2017 - 19:55

I've made a small adjustment to the Commercial frames which should work just as well in an National deep (brood) box.

I took an old National brood frame and removed the two bars which are set at the bottom. These are 6mm x 8mm x 360mm. I cut them into 4 equal 90mm lengths. I glued and nailed these to the sides of the top bars. I made these adjustments to 3 of the frames.

The result is that the frames are spaced at 12mm apart instead of 8mm. The Commercial box fits 11 instead of 12 frames.


Making space for Drones

Submitted by will on Sat, 06/05/2017 - 13:18

Thorne, the equipment supplier, have been sending newsletters recently. The latest contains an interesting article about increasing the number of drones in a hive.

The article points out that the Drone population in feral hives is up to 20% of the total. Drones are males and are necessary for the less visible part of sexual reproduction in the colony which happens in flight. Having an adequate number of Drones will improve the chances of a colony passing on its' genes. It may also improve temperament and reduce swarming, presumably because the colony is achieving its' biological need to reproduce.

Framed hives discriminate against Drones because the Hoffman spacing is too small to accommodate the deeper cells. Drone brood are pushed to the margins of the brood area, reducing the number of Drones which can be produced.

Interventions performed by conventional bee keepers further reduce the population of drones by damaging cappings during inspections and by bio-technical controls (ie Drone uncapping to manage Varroa). These don't apply to my bee keeping.

Adapting a framed hive to allow for deeper cells should be easy enough. Wider spacers can be used, either as glued on blocks; frame spacers or nails which set width. I will look for a way to adapt existing frames, starting with the glue method. I will report on this in a later blog post.