Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Expanding the apiary

One of my jobs over the weekend was to put additional brood boxes onto a couple of our stronger hives. We are planning to increase our honey production and the additional brood boxes are the first step towards achieving that. The bee colonies will now be building up the number of worker bees but they will also soon start to produce queen cells. We expect the colonies in the two hives to fill the additional space and in May/June add some queen cells to the frames in the new brood as well as to the frames in the older broods. When the queen cells start to develop, we shall brush all the bees off the frames in the new brood boxes into the old box, put a queen excluder on top of the old box, place the new box above it and close the hive again.

At this point, the worker bees should move back up into the new box but the queen remains in the bottom. After a couple of days, the new box is taken off the hive again and moved to a new location where it is set up as a hive in its own right. In the new hive will be some worker and nursery bees and some queen cells ready to hatch. The worker bees will fly back to the old hive leaving the nursery bees behind. They will become worker bees in their own right but the new hive is home for them. There should be some brood in the new hive which will hatch and there will be queen cells that will hatch as well. The queens will battle it out amongst themselves. After a few weeks, the new hive will be fully functioning and established.

Back in the old hive, the loss of some nursery bees will rapidly be made up. The queen cells may hatch and there could still be a swarm which we hope to catch. We could prevent it by destroying the queen cells but it could be that the hive has decided to supercede the queen. If we kill off the queen cells, we could ultimately leave the hive queenless.

Last year we bought a second hand nuc box so hopefully we will try to create new hives from that as well.

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