Jump to content

October Bee Group meeting.


Recommended Posts

On Sunday we visited the Seaside Bees home apiary in Papamoa that we saw at Christmas last year. The turnout for the occasion was great; I'd have thought more than 40, maybe 50 people. Some new, some young starting out (teenagers), and some old friends. It must of made it hard to see and hear everything that was going on. We worked on the same two hives, a large Top-Bar, and a hybrid TBH/Langstroth. We seemed inundated with photographers but unfortunately none of the output has come my way yet! Com'on you people, share!

 

Four caged queens had been obtained, and the plan was to use the hybrid's top-bar boxes to set up three nucs, leaving the old queen in her original Langstroth home, and to take another nuc from the other Top- Bar. The hybrid boxes had to be separated with a long (salmon) knife to cut any brace between the boxes, although I didn't think there was much. I suppose any brace comb was likely to put some strain on the bar-comb junction and could tear the comb off the supporting bar. As these were all boxes of brood there was always the frisson of risking the queen! I remember I have seen a similar thing done with honey boxes. Boxes above the excluder were frameless, or minimally framed, and they were removed using a large 'cheese-wire'. The whole box was extracted, none of this frame by frame nonsense. Anyway, for the job In hand it may have made things a little trickier. Maybe it was the short hailstorm just before, or that the colony had been smoked a while, and the box separation did excite the bees a bit (just a bit), so finding the queen could have turned into a marathon. We expected her to be in the bottom box, which we looked at first, but of course she was in the top box, the last one we checked. At least we didn't have to go through twice. She was the same queen I had marked (orange!) last year. With her caged we could safely share all the brood and food combs among the three new nucs and only release her when the job was done.

 

The TBH queen also turned up on the last few combs. (The entrance was in the end, like it should be.) The combs were nice, big and regular, and the hive was clearly being worked frequently so there were no attachments or cross combing to worry about. They were two or three play cups about, one with an egg. I don't get too excited about that sort of thing; when the cups have new wax, and a larva being fed jelly, then I pay attention. Eggs don't mean much. A good number of combs of brood and store were collected for the nuc (five or six I think) and everything reassembled once some extra bees had been brushed into the nuc. All the nucs were being moved to new sites so bees were not going to be drifting back to the parent hive. The cages (with escorts) were simply hung from an empty bar level with the brood on the combs either side. While this seems to work it was clear that the bees were not that impressed by the caged queens or escorts - quite aggressive 'arched back' stances on the outside of the cage. Let's hope a good bumpy ride to the new home and a 'queenless', cool night will change that attitude. I think these cheap new cages that everyone seems to use are rather nasty too - the hard plastic, two halves sliding sort. Ugh.

 

Over a fine large tea (we ran out of cups - sorry!) people chatted bees before they drifted away. Someone making boxes had come along, I talked to @dansar, and @Phil46; I sure there were others. We got to talking about requeening. Seaside have used cells, virgins, and mated queens.

 

The favoured method for re-queening a hive uses a mated queen, and relies on the rearing operation to do all the work. Which you pay for. Another popular method is to use a developing cell (found or produced), and this has the advantages that you needn't find the queen and it works well for hives with laying workers. You take all the risk, accept the necessary time limitations, benefit from the reduced cost, and, it terms of quality, get whatever turns up. Although not popular, opting to use virgins in preference to cells or mated queens is not an irrational choice. For a start:

  • They're cheap. Tested, mated queens are expensive for a reason;
  • you have to provide a suitable home, and time, and budget for the 'sparrow factor'. Add in the cost of the fathers and their upkeep, and all the 'support colonies you need (in several separate apiaries) to provide the bees and combs you will need to mate queens and the price soon escalates
  • Virgins are quicker to bring a hive back into production, albeit not much, and poor weather can negate the advantage.
  • You can evaluate them for defects. Although you can candle cells, you can be even more selective with virgins. A small piece of wing or hair can provide DNA to check lineage, or you can weigh her and breed heavier queens. (On balance, size matters for queens.)
  • You can 'bank' them for a while, making the timing of their installation more flexible.
  • For some types of research, you can mark ( or number) a virgin

The reason smaller beekeepers in other parts of the world rear virgins for their hives is that they take advantage of co-operative schemes to run mating apiaries. It's one way of keeping what we might think of as a 'heritage strain'. A collective running a mating apiary (isolated and with its own drone line) receives virgins from many, many beekeepers, gets them mated, and sends them home again. These islands have not reached such giddy, sophistication, for several reasons, but not because it's impossible.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 7
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I think these cheap new cages that everyone seems to use are rather nasty too - the hard plastic, two halves sliding sort. Ugh.

 

I was not sure what you meant. But today we pulled out some cages with candy in them that our mentor gave us and yes indeed they are different. The candy area has a folding door that clips down and the queen area has a hinged door too. These are much easier to use. The plastic mouldings has "ceracell nz" on it.

 

Queen introduction mailing cage - polypropylene re-usable | Queen Cage | Ceracell Beekeeping Supplies | Auckland | New Zealand

 

They are 40cents each. They don't appear to be any more expensive than the sliding ones, but sometimes I accidentally/slightly unslide the sliding ones which could end up in disaster with an escaped queen flying around the cab or squashing her as I quickly correct my mistake..

 

Still, maybe there is yet another kind of cage you prefer(?).

 

The reason for using a caged queen today is a separate topic. We have a Nuc that has only two combs of brood and has been a bit under-done since creation from a cell in Feb and all through winter. It is ok, but has not hit the spring expansion pedal. Our plan is to put the queen in a candy cage with no escorts and in her own hive for her own protection. Then to swap hive locations with a strong hive that is too strong for a Nuc and about to be put into a full size hive. As well as the swap of position we are going to take the strong Nuc back from 10 frames of brood to 8; putting two frames of brood into the weak one. Thus the weak hive will have total four combs of brood and a queen who can't be killed by all the foragers that will come into this hive and have an 'excuse me' moment. The strong Nuc will still have 8 frames of brood and plenty of strength and will be shifted out of the Nuc apiary completely to a permanent location. If the weak hive does not itself become a strong hive then the queen will get the blame I'm afraid to say.

 

Comments/corrections/criticism welcome..

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Meeting Update:

I did an inspection on the three mated queens on 9/11/16

I took some one handed photos which are fuzzy. But basically the three bare top bars that had the cages are no longer bare.

All three had eggs and two had significant amounts of uncapped brood.

Stores were higher and as well as the effort on the bare bar of the cage, wax was being drawn on all the FD deep combs to make them Jumbo depth combs. Cages have been removed so they can fill in the hole.

 

IMG_0406.JPG.b8a425c7a2df29ea3864b5eadd937561.JPG

I did not inspect the Virgin Queen. I intend to leave the virgin alone for a good while yet especially if the traffic on the hive remains strong.

 

The two cells were at another apiary, both are bringing in pollen. I have not looked into either of them, but with pollen going in and heaps of bee traffic it seems fine. Other Nucs in same apiary are expanding and being shifted into large hives.

IMG_0403.JPG.ae2c6bc1681824f6b562789c82448b65.JPG

IMG_0405.JPG.e631229240f7cf408c7b20911c901993.JPG

IMG_0403.JPG.ae2c6bc1681824f6b562789c82448b65.JPG

IMG_0405.JPG.e631229240f7cf408c7b20911c901993.JPG

IMG_0406.JPG.b8a425c7a2df29ea3864b5eadd937561.JPG

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

IMG_0474.JPG.5b5695fbe6d473fd4cb6d3092da982e6.JPG

the virgin queen is no longer, plenty of brood on latest inspection. However, one of the mated queens has collapsed. It was mated early in bad weather, so I guess that's that. I will look at the two cells day after tomorrow.

IMG_0474.JPG.5b5695fbe6d473fd4cb6d3092da982e6.JPG

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Final update on this is that I checked the two nuc's that had cells. Both are in rude good health with capped brood.

 

So, the summary is that we had three mated queens, but one of those failed. It was producing small amounts of brood, but never really 'fired' like the other two. We had one virgin queen and this has mated successfully and is 'on fire'. We had two cells, in our diy cell carrier, these were put out on the day following the meeting (meeting was busy). These went into smaller five bar boxes not ten's. There was no capped brood for 5 weeks, I was fearing the worst, but now both are full of capped brood and need bigger boxes. Overall, 6 out of 7 isn't bad. The only failure was a mated queen and this is the first time I've ever lost a mated queen in less than a year ( it lasted about 4 weeks). Regardless of that, I'm very pleased.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...