This year I caught a lot of swarms. The ones I caught early in the season were very strong- a bit later in spring I caught some smaller swarms and these have proved to be very weak and slow growing. It reminds me of that old saying,
“a swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly” - though the months don’t apply to this hemisphere- I have a feeling the sentiment still does.
Also one of my best hives issued a huge swarm early in spring- then went queenless for an extended period- and I had some issues getting the bees to finally create a queen- it took three goes giving them brood. That colony is also now relatively weak though it has more stores than the swarms. I had to remove the flow super after it swarmed. When I inspected today I saw eggs, larvae and capped brood on some frames- no queen to see- and other frames ignored by the queen and broodless. Not one gorgeous fully capped frame to be seen
So currently I have 3 weak colonies- and on inspection I see scattered patches of brood,and very low stores of pollen and nectar. It’s been ages since I have seen a lovely fully capped perfect frame. It seems In all these hives there are small patches of capped brood, no drones. The two weakest I just successfully combined into one (one was queenless).
I am hoping that over time the colonies will build up - but am worried some of the queens may be duds? How long does one give a weak colony to build back up before deciding something is really wrong? I understand that queens lay according to the ability of the hives to care for young- so it may be these colonies are OK- but there has been a bit of a summer dearth- and it’s just taking some time for the bees to get sufficient resources together to make the next leap in terms of population?
I have fed a few of these hives sugar syrup - but only a few times and only a few 100 mls each. Should I feed them up more?
I am wondering if anyone with experience of SA summers/autumns (or similar climate) can say much about the usual nectar flow times in SA? One beek told me early srping is really the main flow in Adelaide and that after that things can be very patchy. I am wondering if there are often late summer/autumn secondary flows? Last year we did harvest throughout Autumn and summer.