I went to visit Faith – my last remaining hive – on Saturday. It was a beautiful day. This was the first time that I have opened her up this year.
The bees were flying well. I took the bottom half-brood chamber and placed it on top of the larger brood chamber. The bottom only had half a frame of honey left – enough to over-winter the hive – though the queen is now in her third year – and as a local beekeper said “she is on her pension”!
There were three or four frames of brood – and signs of a laying queen with eggs on the edge of one of the brood patterns – however, the queen is not laying anything like as well as last year.
I managed to order two new colonies at the end of March – and am going to pick them up from a beekeeper about one and a half hours drive north this time next week. So hopefully they will rebuild my apiary to allow me to get a reasonable amount of honey this year.
What a change from this time last year April when we had a very warm April and Faith already had four supers on her! This April has been much colder – with frost on one or two mornings.
The blossom on the apple trees in the orchard where the bees are is just coming out. So with a bit of luck the bees will start piling-on the honey in the next couple of weeks – weather permitting.
I also had a neighbour ring me saying they had a swarm. It was actually a very well-developed colony on which had benefitted from the central heating giving them a kick-start through the cold spring mornings. Trouble is, the colony had not swarmed – it was thriving – and it needed a bricklayer to take out the bricks before the bees could be removed. There is only one guy I know who is both a beekeeper and a bricklayer. Perhaps I should learn to be a bricklayer!