Today was the day of my open apiary, the weather was brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the low 20’s. Perfect.
I had about 10 Sleaford Beekeepers attend, my plan was to demonstrate swarm control without increasing stocks.
2 of my hives had already been artificially swarmed using a vertical method, whereby the old brood box with all the brood is lifted to the top of the hive and split using a Snelgrove board.
In hive 1 there were sealed queen cells as hoped in the top box, one frame with a queen cell was taken from here and placed in a 5 frame nuc. I wrapped the queen cell in kitchen foil to protect it from being torn down by the bees in the nuc.
1 further cell was left in this box to produce another queen. There was a lot of honey in the supers, but none quite ready to extract. In the new brood box the bees had started to produce comb in the foundationless frames, and the queen was laying. On reassembly, the doors on the Snelgrove board were adjusted to allow the foraging bees to return to the main hive, depleting the top box of more bees and reducing their desire to swarm.
Hive 2 was the hive now ready for artificially swarming, charged queen cells were found in the brood box as expected. As with the other hives I carried out a vertical artificial swarm using a Snelgrove board. The queen cells were all removed, and will require further removal in 4/5 days time, as I don’t plan any more queens at this time.
Hive 3 had the same set up as hive 1, the only difference was that I had used the normal method of giving the foundation wax in their frames, it was clear that they had got off to a much better start that the foundationless hive. I did find 1 queen cell, which I removed, I will have to keep an eye on this hive. The brood box was however filling with honey, so an extra super was added. My attempt to demonstrate queen marking went well until I removed the queen marking cage and the queen fell off! Fortunately she fell into the hive as I was holding the frame over the hive (always good practise).
I do need to extract honey from all hives to give them extra room as soon as it is ripe.
Then it was back to the house for refreshments.
Thank you to Karen, my wife for the catering and to Pam Todd for the photos.