Bee Good

I actually forgot when I did my blog yesterday that I went to check my bees in the morning, so I wasn\’t really faffing all the time. I\’ve just got my first hive from splitting the club hive I looked after all last year – one that belongs to my local beekeeping group (Hi Roseland Group!).
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What me and my mentor, Mike, did to split the colony was this: from the beginning of April we checked them every few days until we saw some sealed Queen cells (they look like long pointed peanut shells stuck to the bottom of the brood comb). Then we found the old Queen (or, as I call her, Madam) and put the brood frame she was on straight into a new brood box. Then we took about three other combs with sealed brood in it and two of stores, plus the bees on the frames. Then we sealed up the new brood box and drove it more than three miles away to an apiary on the Tregothnan estate where a very nice fellow member called Norma had offered me space to put it.
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When a bee colony swarms, the old Queen is the one who flies away, leaving her royal daughters in the old hive. So by taking Madam and about half the colony we essentially did the swarming for them and they went straight into their lovely new home without having to hang from trees or send out scouts or risk a bird eating Madam. Much more convenient for them and for me. In fact, as I said to Mike, I think we caught them just in time: we split the colony at 10.30 and when we did it, there were two sealed Queen cells and half the bees had their heads in the honey cells glugging honey. I think if we\’d come at 1.00 pm as I wanted to , they\’d already have gone.
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Madam has been laying mightily in the lovely weather – and I find it quite fascinating to look at them working away. Just like SimCity with aliens.