Friday, 13 May 2011

Swarms and Splits

The colony has been building up very well and I've struggled to keep up with them! After about 10 days of not being able to check through the hive because of work, weather and family, they swarmed. I wasn't too shocked, but a little disappointed. Hopefully the swarm has found a good home (hive or feral) and will survive. If they go feral, I hope they will provide plenty of swarms in the future, a good local supply of "survivor" bees.

On Friday afternoon, I took advantage of a break in the weather to go through the hive. There were still plenty of bees, brood and stores. As the hive was still so full I was concerned about cast swarms, especially as there were around a dozen capped queen cells visible! I took the opportunity to remove them from the conversion hive, doing a chop'n'crop (demonstrated here) to remove the frames, and split them between two new Kenyan Top-Bar Hives, one 3 foot (which will stay in the garden) and the other, 4 foot (which is being moved to a friends house where they will hopefully help pollinating his fruit trees.


The Three Foot Hive

I'm using a selection of top-bar designs in the new hives to see which works the best at preventing cross-combing. Cross-combing was beginning to become a problem. The last few combs were becoming more curved rather than full-on crossing the bars. Spacers between the bars was not helping. Most of these bars had just a wax filled kerf. You should be able to see in the picture that I have routed a chamfer on the edge of the bars to make a more complete barrier to cross-combing (I hope).

Waxed Kerf, V and Popsicle Stick

Now patience is needed again as I wait for the new queens to hatch, fly and mate, then start laying before I can be confident that all is well.