Happy July bees

Both hives were doing great today. An audience of learner beekeepers were watching and luckily both lots of bees were on their very best behaviour. They didn’t need smoking and a brave beginner inspecting bare handed received no stings.

In the bigger hive, with our new queen Rosemary, they are doing really well at filling out the super and it’s very heavy now. We might need to put another super on at some point this month. Rosemary and plenty of brood were spotted. Some of the beginners hadn’t seen drones or a queen before so it was nice to be able to show them the difference.

Inspecting Rosemary's hive

I noticed that the little bee on her back below was very weak. Her fuzziness gave her away as a young bee and she was noticeably smaller than her sisters. I wondered whether, with so many frames of mouths to feed, the nurse bees were struggling to feed all the brood sufficiently? Or could it be the effect of varroa feeding on her whilst she was a larvae? The two bees next to her nudged her a little and touched their antennae against hers.

To close up the hive we smoked the top of the brood box to get them to go down without squashing the ladies, and also used a wedge (door stop shaped) to lever the super down gently. Once the super is in place, the wedge can be slowly pulled out. This week we used sawdust and lavender buds in the smoker, and the smoke seemed to be easier on our eyes as a result, and hopefully easier on the bees’ eyes too. Aromatherapy for bees!

These flying bees belong to Albert. Their queen came from New Zealand last year. Their distinctive golden yellow colour and energetic flying makes them stand out in the apiary.

On to Rose’s hive. Rose is Rosemary’s mum. We did an artificial swarm to split Rose’s hive into two a couple of months ago, when the queen cell containing Rosemary was spotted. Rose is now in the smaller of the two hives. Her hive is doing well – once they’ve filled out a couple more frames we could probably put a super on.

Rose's hive

Here you can see the brave beginner inspecting bare handed, trying his best to find eggs. Eventually he spotted them by holding the frame up to the light. It’s darker under the apiary trees than it looks in the photos.

Looking for eggs

Some Ealing association beekeepers are taking their Basic Beekeeping exam on Wednesday, good luck everyone!

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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10 Responses to Happy July bees

  1. I can’t believe we were teaching newbies today! That way madness lies…


    • Emily Heath says:

      I was impressed by their confidence in handling the frames and the questions they asked, won’t be long before they start asking questions I don’t know the answer to!


  2. Martin Hill says:

    Fab blog, great pictures. Loving it. One comment The person in the pic needs to take off the ring incase they get a sting. As a beekeeper and Paramedic it’s not nice if we have to cut it off, The ring that is not the finger!


  3. Gary says:

    Great to see New Zealand bees are doing so well in England, thanks great blog enjoying it Gary


    • Emily Heath says:

      Thanks, I have subscribed to your blog. Albert’s NZ bees are doing the best in the apiary this year, they are constantly on the go even in fairly cold weather, which has surprised me.


  4. willowbatel says:

    My hive currently has a queen and there is a queen cup present with an egg in it. I left it alone because it’s in the middle of the frame and i was told that they usually make superscedure cells in the middle of the frames. There was, however, a second newer queen cup at the edge of a different frame. Does this mean the bees are preparing to swarm and i should split them? I moved around some of the frames and moved some of the honey frames up to the second box, replacing them with empty frames, to try and confuse the bees into thinking they can’t afford to swarm while also encouraging them to draw out more comb faster, since they clearly need the space.


    • Emily Heath says:

      We’ve been told the same thing, that only a couple of cells and cells in the middle is meant to indicate supersedure. Are there enough bees to try splitting them? If so then great, if not I’d be tempted to leave them to get on with it, but of course you do run the risk of half of them disappearing, which is the risk Emma and I are taking at the moment!


      • willowbatel says:

        They’ve really only just barely filled in their first box. I know people have 3 or 4 framed nucs, but i’d be worried they wouldn’t be able to expand properly if they were set back that far. I supposed all i can do for the moment is hope for the best. My old bees superceded almost immdiately after they were moved to my yard, so maybe these bees are doing to same thing. I just don’t see why they’d need to because the queen seems to be laying perfectly fine at the moment. The good news is that if they do just requeen themselves then the colony will be stonger for the winter because theres a wild hive just down the street. Let’s hope for the best, for both of our hives.


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