Beekeeping Year



May to June



Inside the Hive - These are the months when the colony expands in strength very rapidly.


The copious supplies of fresh nectar and pollen stimulates the production of more brood. The queen will now be laying over 1000 eggs per day! Young workers bees will be hatching at a similar rate and the population will be boosted to over 50,000 workers plus a few hundred drones (male bees).


When the colony reaches its maximum strength it may prepare to swarm. This is the colony's way of naturally reproducing another colony. The queen will lay eggs in specially prepared queen cells and produce larvae that will be nutured on royal jelly and hatch in 16 days as new queens.


On a still sunny day the swarm (approx.20-30,000 bees)will pour from the hive entrance in a swirling roaring mass lifting into the air. The queen will fly (maybe for the first time in years) amongst this living cloud.


Eventually the familiar “pear” shaped swarm lands on a branch to rest before moving on to a new location where a new colony is set up far from its original home.


Inside the original hive the newly hatched queens will fight for dominance. Then the sole surviving queen will fly from the hive to mate on the wing with a drone. On her return she will now become the new mother of the colony.

 

 

 


On the Honey Farm - This is the busiest time of year for us. As the colonies increase in strength we must provide extra space. Firstly we place a queen excluder on top of the brood box. This is a special mesh which allows the smaller worker bees to enter the honey boxes, called supers, above but confines the larger queen below within the brood nest. This ensures that eggs are not laid in them stopping larvae and brood being bred in the boxes where the honey is going to be stored.


Depending on the strength of the colony we will add more boxes on top to accommodate the increasing population and to store the surplus honey.


We must also prevent our hives from swarming as a weakened hive will not produce honey. Some hives may have already swarmed and these must be caught and housed in in a new hive that we prepared during the winter.


This period of high activity is also the best time to rear queen bees. Rearing top quality queens will ensure that we have the strongest and most productive hives for the following season.


To add to all of this work should the hives be in an area where Oilseed Rape is growing the hives may produce large quantities of honey that we must take from the hives and extract quickly before it granulates in the honey combs.


It takes a very well organised bee-keeper with good quality bees and equipment to achieve all of these tasks but all of this could be ruined should the weather go against us.




 

May-June Gallery

Click on a picture to see a larger version

 

Swarm of bees on a branch

 

Swarm of bees

 

Putting extra 'supers' on a hive

 

Puttiing 'supers' on a hive

 

Comb of honey ready for extraction

 

A comb ready to extract

 

Extraction equipment

 

Extraction equipment

 

Mini queen rearing hives

 

Mini queen rearing hives

 

A new queen

 

A new queen