EARLY SWARMING SEASON

On the way back from the auction last Saturday, I meandered round a couple of my empty sites.  On the first, a wild flower meadow on a seaside holiday camp, one of the hives had been overturned by the gales and so I righted it and cleaned it up.  The second had a nest of mice inside!  I evicted them and their comfy nest and cleaned up.  I still don’t understand how they got in as they appeared to be quite hefty creatures and yet the hive entrance is only a quarter of an inch deep. I can’t get my little finger in it beyond the nail!

The next site is tucked away in a Council yard. When I was working I had a key but nowadays I have to crawl through a hole in the fence! Sometimes that site is quite productive and on one occasion the hive had full supers rising head high, yielding about a hundredweight of honey.  I have a couple of empty hives there.  The first was tidy and untouched so I just looked in to make sure, following my previous experience, that it was mouse free.

The next hive was taller and on a slant as it appears that the pallet on which is stands has rotted.  It needed squaring up so I started taking it apart.  When I got down to the last super though, I heard a buzz and bees appeared!  Not being kitted up, I gently closed up  again and left them to it.

I went back yesterday to take a proper look.  The bees are occupying maybe 5 frames. The comb appears to be fresh and built on the slant matching the slope of the hive, also there wasn’t enough to have contained sufficient honey to have seen a colony through the winter.  There was sealed brood on several combs including a solitary drone cell. I uncapped this to see whether it had a mite or two inside, but the drone was still at the pre-pupal stage and so had been laid about 10 days earlier.

Thus the swarm must have arrived during the first week in April! I found the queen, large and dark, and gave her a blob of paint.

This isn’t the only place with early swarms as a friend from Cambridge way has gathered a swarm already and also lost one.

Maybe bee numbers will get back to normal this year.

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About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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