Episode 107 - Artificial Swarms

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By Stewart Spinks. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Hi I’m Stewart Spinks and welcome to Episode 107 of my podcast Beekeeping Short and sweet. Queen cells have started to pop up in several colonies and last week I touched on the Artificial Swarm technique, this week I’m going to delve a little more closely at this beekeeping staple.

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I’m grateful to Honey Paw hives for sponsoring in part our podcasts for this season. Honey Paw hives are, as I’m sure you’re aware, Poly Langstroth hives and we’re setting up an apiary full of their hives this season courtesy of Honey Paw. Check out their range of hives and other equipment on their website, I’ll leave a link to their website in the show notes as usual.

Honey Paw Hives - Designed by Beekeepers, For Beekeepers.

Well, here in Norfolk in the UK we’re fast approaching that time in the season where colony reproduction will either begin or be in full swing, I’ve already seen several queen cells with eggs and larvae in and one colony got a head start on me and has already swarmed!

It can be a tricky time as we found out last year and there can be a certain amount of panic as colonies throw up queen cells and beekeepers struggle with how to tackle the situation.

Before we get into the details of the so called artificial swarm method of swarm control let’s look back at this week and update you all on how things are going.

As some of you will know I inspect on a weekly basis so at the moment I’m comfortably able to get round all sixty or so colonies and spend time working through them. I really don’t know how sole beekeepers manage to get through 150 plus colonies on their own with weekly inspections but I guess I’ll find that out eventually.

We’ve had about 10% throw up queen cells with the majority now producing rudimentary queen cups, the difference being the rudy’s, as we call them, don’t yet have an egg or larvae in them.

The highlight of the week was undoubtedly the church colony removal, quite a nerve-wracking experience for someone who isn’t used to being around 8m up on a scaffolding platform. The cut out was performed on Friday last week, it turned out to be quite a cold morning and the bees were fairly well tucked away in the corner sheltered from the prevailing Easterly wind. It was interesting to see just how sheltered it actually was in the spot they had chosen. The comb had been built across the corner between buttress and main wall and to be honest I could see why they had been able to survive there. With the overhanging brickwork it really was very sheltered indeed. Just to remind everyone, the reason for removing them was at the request of the church who are going to have some repair work performed to the east wall and wanted the colony removed. They had delayed removal in the hope the colony would die out overwinter and not have to pay for scaffolding, not a particularly Christian approach and they were lucky that we were able to find someone who could provide use with scaffolding free of charge. I say free of charge, I’m actually going to supply Markus the owner of EFL - Roofing Specialists with a nucleus colony to get him started in beekeeping once we’re out of lockdown so it is actually costing me, however, the church is very local to where I grew up and I’m a soft touch it seems.

I have posted pictures and video on the Patreon page of our removal so do take a look at that if you’re interested......................

Next week, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll talk through how to create an artificial swarm when you can’t find the queen.

Well, that’s it for this week, time to get out into the warming sunshine and check some of my colonies.

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