Wasps Up?

7/24/2017 11:23:00 am 0 Comments

For the first time I was able to spot our elusive queen in the first WBC hive, and capture her in a photo!


There was also plenty of bees and brood present so this hive is doing very well, as is the second WBC hive which received an established frame of brood and a queen cup last week as prior to this it looked like the queen was lost and the colony was declining fast. The great news is that there are now eggs in the hive, meaning we have a mated queen. I'm sure we will spot her over the coming week or so. Our National hive continues to flourish, with the queen still laying well. It won't be long before we need to add a third super. The bait hive has now been emptied of honey and no doubt the bees have transferred this back to the main hives.

It looks like we have lost the swarm colony which we caught earlier in the year. We had been keeping a close eye on it, hoping that it would survive the cold spring months. We think there was a queen at some point but she seemed to be bringing on only drone (male) bees. Unfortunately during this inspection all I found was a lot of dead bees and the frames look like they have been subsequently eaten out by vermin. Oh well, it is a shame, but you can't win them all. At least our three main hives are doing well.

The only problematic development are the wasps. They’ve been few and far between this year due to the weird spring weather, but they are generally a real issue for beekeepers, especially in weaker colonies. The wasps just walk in and, being omnivores, will rob the hives not only of honey but also of larvae. They can completely wipe out a beehive if not kept in check. We’ve been lucky with this so far, but I spotted a few wasps during this inspection, so it’s time to start protecting the hives. I closed the entrance to the second WBC (the weakest colony) to make it smaller and easier for the bees to defend. I have also set up a few traps. I intend to add more over the coming few weeks. Bees are far more refined and discerning than wasps so the traps can be filled with sugary beer, low quality jam or a solution of vinegar, sugar and water. Wasps love anything like that, but the bees will not touch it.

Instead, they’ll make for the sainfoin, the flowers in our bumblebird plot and any other flowering plants on the farm. The sainfoin, having been cut for hay a month ago has now regrown well in the recent weather and is in full flower again, which is hopefully great news for the honey flow, providing there is enough moisture around for the plants to produce nectar. We now also have our bumblebird plot in flower, the phacelia has come through first with lots of other species like cornflower and sunflower to come through later in the season, so there are plenty of ingredients about for some great honey.

Sainfoin
Bumblebird Mixture (foreground)

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