The all clear?

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


It's beginning to get autumnal now, with a distinct bite in the air. Conditions were very pleasant for a meeting of all four of us — me, Dave, D and B — in a new, more relaxed and tranquil inspection approach. It really is a pleasantly unique way to spend an hour outdoors, and I always come back in a more contented frame of mind.

Anyway, avid readers of this blog will recall that just over a week ago the comb in Colony One was covered in queen cells, later understood to be emergency cells. Well, perhaps now the emergency is over, because all but one of the cells was as though it was never there, and that cell has been vacated. There's no sign of any queen as far as I could tell, but Dave told me that until she's mated she only appears marginally, perhaps unnoticably, longer than any other bees. For this and other reasons, she's harder to spot, and might be hanging out by the wall or corner of the hive. I think I saw a larger bee on the fourth frame of four and a half, so there's hope. What I don't remember seeing are were the big eyes and cigar-shaped bodies of any drones, even though there's been no queen and plenty of food so far. I wonder if they've been evicted already. I suppose it's not in the hive we need the drones, but some other colony which hasn't yet evicted them.

What we saw a lot of was stores. All that syrup we've been putting 'upstairs' has ended up where the brood cells used to be a few weeks ago when the queen was around. Old comb is now filled with shimmering nectar ready for winter, but not an egg, nor larva, nor capped pupa in sight. What this means if and when the new queen takes charge is anyone's guess, but there are six or so frames unused which could be used. I wonder — if the virgin queen mated and established new, late brood in the first couple of unused frames and stores in the rest then there would be an eleven-frame winter-ready colony. As ever, we'll have to watch and learn.

B got really stuck into the inspection process today, operating the smoker, filling the feeder, looking at the central frame, taking photos and filling out the checklist. He remarked on the propolis, on the honey capping, and the reticules. He was calm in spite of how bad-tempered the bees seemed to be today — he didn't flinch and was unbothered about being stung. I suppose the colony have been through a lot, so perhaps there's good reasons for them to be grumpy. There was still little sign of Varroa, so we held off on applying Apiguard for another week.

In Dave and D's hive everything looked great. Lots of brood, lots of storage, a docile colony, and a sighting of the queen.

Queen seen?Queen cellsBroodframefuls of stores# available frames for broodHealthEstimated mitesTemper / docilityFeed given# supers addedWeather
C1✘ unsure14L71.3l 2:1018°C ☀