Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Choosing a bright spell in the middle of the day,when it is warm enough for shirt sleeves,I have been opening up the hives one by one and doing the following jobs…
1. Marking queens that were not marked in the first inspection.
2. Moving 2 frames with stores to the bottom brood box and inserting 2 frames of fresh foundation into the middle of the top brood box.
I’ve only done this on the strongest hives but will give all hives a total of 4 frames of fresh wax every spring. Like wise old,empty frames are taken out and the wax rendered.The 2 high points in the bee’s year are drawing out fresh wax and swarming. So it is important to give them new wax foundation to draw to keep them happy and employ the young bees and hopefully distract them from swarming.
Note the little bag of old tights in the photo above contains thymol crystals and sitting on top of the brood frames will disrupt the breeding cycle of the varroa mite.The varroa mite is a blood sucking parasite brought into the UK on foreign bees and in relative terms is like having a blood sucking hedgehog stuck to us.
3.Adding a queen excluder and honey super above on strong hives
Note that it is best to put drawn super frames on at this time of year as above. As nectar starts to flow the bees need lots of space in which to hang it out to dry.I store my supers wet with honey after extracting because
a] it prevents invasion by the wax moth and
b] the bees move up into them straight away and welcome the stimulus of a little honey to eat.
I have been working my way round the hives of several new beekeepers who live locally and who I mentor. You can learn a lot in a short space of time from an experienced beekeeper.
This is proving to be a fairly cold and slow spring and tempting as it is to open the hives and see what is going on,you need to be patient and not bulldozer through them when it’s nippy and cause brood chill.
Here are some flowers that have been/are in flower that are particularly useful for bees.