Littleover Apiaries – March in the Hive
We are now experiencing the first rays of the spring sun and with it comes the start of the bee-keeping year for us.
We have finished all the maintenance of hive parts and all the new wax has been put into fra
mes ready for the season to commence. Every colony has now had their mouse guards removed and been thoroughly inspected and any required action has been decided upon.
Some colonies are too small to be viable alone, so these have been merged with other small colonies and will have new Queens introduced in a few weeks’ time. We need to know that the colony has at least five frames of bees and a viable Queen in each one. Some colonies just have not made it through the winter for no obvious reason, and a few have been destroyed by mice, woodpeckers and vandals. All in all we have lost less then 2% of our total numbers and consider that we have done quite well once again. For the last nine years in particular we have not had a winter loss exceeding 4.5%, were it seems that the norm for the UK is approaching 20% plus.
In the meantime, all of our bees have had a cake made of pollen placed into every hive to ensure they have enough protein to tide them over until the first spring blooms come out. This also ensures that each colony has enough high protein on which to feed in order to help get them off to a flying start when it comes to the Queens commencing their egg laying.
By the middle of March, all the colonies will be out on the first apiary sites and then the rest is down to Mother Nature herself. We want warm and humid conditions to get the oilseed rape off to a great start.
The next important step for us is for the Queens to start laying their eggs. Eventually the average Queen Bee will be laying up to 3,000 eggs per day and her colony will hopefully number between 65,000 and 80,000 bees. The Queens will not really start laying in earnest until the temperature gets up to 11 degrees centigrade on a regular basis, and this will also coincide with the rape crop in April and May.
More from the hive next month!