Here’s a photo showing what I’ve been up to the last week:
The hives wintered well and I was stimulating brood rearing for the last two months as best I knew how to…we have a short season compared to many areas in Australia…and we need two to three boxes of bees at this time…
… all in preparation for a spring honeyflow from the dandelions, willows etc… Now I have to reset those hives…by that I mean change their focus from brood production to honey production. This means taking each beehive out of the beehouse, separating the brood boxes and methodically shaking the bees off each frame in front of their normal entrance on the outside of beehouse. When I come across the frame with the queen, I take her (with the frame she is on) back inside the beehouse and place her in a box of newer frames (frames that were extracted last year)…this is the same spot where the hive was originally located inside the beehouse.
The queen excluder goes on top of the queen, oxalic pads on top of the excluder, the two brood boxes that have the bees shook from them go on top of the queen excluder (the brood from these two brood boxes will hatch out in 3 weeks and the brood boxes are essentially turned into honey supers), and two additional full-depth honey supers are added to the hive. The hive is ready to bring in the new crop.
As I shake the bees off each frame I do a disease inspection of each frame… can’t imagine inspecting for American Foulbrood with bees covering the frames. This is the only time of year I inspect for disease. Any swarm cells (aprox. 10% of hives have swarm cells) that aren’t capped are removed…advanced swarm cells are removed intact on the frame and made into mating nucs. Queens with poor brood patterns are identified.
Within hours, the hive recovers from this interruption, the queen now has 8 empty adjacent frames to lay in…so she can lay uninterrupted…just like a new swarm. The moral of the colony is restored to that of a swarm also…they appear to love this modified Taranov procedure…the hive is reset.
This method impresses me…and has become essential in my management…now I get the reward, a three week beekeeping hiatus…and no bees hanging from the trees.
And of course there’s the honey…spring honey on the right…summer honey on the left.