Perhaps it was only the beginner’s luck, but last year we had three bee swarms that all came directly to a six frame hive that we had placed outside to attract them.
This year we thought we were well prepared with our three polystyrene hives to attract any new swarms.
Swarm fever seems to have been contagious.
Between 14th April and 27th April, we collected a total of nine swarms on trees close to our hives! A couple of days two swarms arrived on the same day. Three of the swarms came from our own hives. There are one or two professional beekeepers near us who keep their hives at the edge of the woods. I assume that the swarms came from there. We gave all the swarms to our beekeeper friend, Michel, to whom we have always relied for help. The last swarm we kept for our friend, Angélique, from the bee school.
When we first noticed a queen cell in Amelia’s favourite hive, Violette, we divided her. A week later we saw more queen cells and divided her once again. I know experienced beekeepers would have told us that a division might not prevent swarming – and they were right. Violette swarmed a week later. It was a risk, especially as we appreciate that divisions in hives are not always successful.
Three weeks later we inspected all hives as by then all should have had new queens. To my dismay, there were no brood as yet either in our three hives, nor in the two nukes that we have made divisions. I was disappointed, but then I read the very informative blog by Rusty, on ‘When will a newly-hatched queen begin to lay?’ Rusty’s response to that question was: ‘Holy guacamole, give the woman a chance!’ Despite my impatience, we did exactly as Rusty ‘commanded’.
On 20th May we opened all the hives for inspection. They all had two or three large frames of brood.
I was especially pleased to see that both divisions from Violette had each three frames of lovely brood. In fact it was not until afterwards that I looked through the pictures Amelia had taken whilst I inspected the hives, that we noticed the new queen. We placed the first division of Violette into her own 10 frame hive which has now been named Pissenlit, as at this time there are a lot of dandelions growing in the countryside around us.
The bottom of our garden is once again adorned with active hives, all with new queens. We will wait for another week or so before we place the second division into her own hive (any suggestion for a name?)
The second hive from the right is Queen Angélique, which will be transported to our friend’s house early tomorrow morning.
One final note, I must mention that a couple of weeks ago we attempted to extract honey from one super. At that time the nectar was mainly from rapeseed flower. As all beekeepers know, it crystallizes very quickly and is very difficult to spin out in the centrifuge. We did make a small quantity of honey, and cut up the rest to be used by ourselves and our grateful neighbours as we all love comb honey.