“A swarm of honey bees in May
Is often worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in hot July
Is hardly worth a fly”.
This old country saying couldn’t be truer. If you are lucky enough to collect a swarm this time of year, chances are that it will be quite a substantial size and you will end up with a decent hive of bees. Swarming is the bees way of establishing a new colony and increasing in numbers. Before swarming can occur, a new queen has to be raised. Just before she is born, the old queen will depart with over half the colony from the hive and ‘swarm’ usually in a tree or bush and send out scout bees to find another suitable home. If you are really lucky, they may set up home in an empty hive left about for this very reason, but this does not happen that often. Obviously your remaining colony with the newly hatched queen is depleted in numbers and will take the rest of the season to build up numbers again. Bee keepers try and prevent this process of swarming, to keep their hives with a good number of bees, so to enable a greater honey collection. Once the spring arrives, the bees have to be opened up weekly and each frame inspected for the tell tale signs of queen cell building, these have to be taken out, hopefully preventing swarming. This is not as easy as it appears as with the vast number of bees climbing over the frames on inspection, a queen cell can be easily missed.
A frame filled with honey and capped over with wax
This frame is filled with honey but as yet uncapped
After inspecting my bees at the weekend, I noticed there is a lot of honey in the frames, some of it capped over with wax, which means that it is ready to extract. We are well into the honey flow now with all the spring flowers in bloom. I shall leave it 2-3 weeks and then take off the frames of honey to extract it.
So many bees, missing the queen cells is easy
To take these photos I had to remove my gloves to operate the camera, luckily I didn’t get stung!