My plan for today was to do a quick inspection and insert clearer boards, plus merge two colonies at my Lytchett Matravers hives – however it turned out to be a much bigger job.
Hive 3 was fine, saw the Queen, brood in all stages and stores in the brood box. Due to the weather of late, the bees have used most of the sealed honey that was in the supers – just as well I left them on.
Hive four, which I had planned as a simple merge with a nuc surprised me – they had been Queenless for some time, and I had put in several frames of eggs/larva for them to raise an emergency Queen with no joy, but when I opened the hive I saw a small patch of sealed brood, and quite a few newly laid eggs and larva.
This meant I had a new Queen, and that I had find and remove her, otherwise there would be two Queens in the hive when merged – not a good situation at all. It took some time to find the Queen, as it turned out she was quite small, but I found her and caged her.
Now I could merge the two hives by placing a couple of sheets of newspaper on top of one brood box, and placing the other on top. Over the next few days, the bees will chew through the paper and become one colony. The paper trick allows time for the Queen’s pheromone to spread throughout the hive so that the two colonies accept each other and become one.
Now I have a spare Queen in my pocket…..
Off I toodle home, a plan in mind. I made up a new nuc, with bees shook in from hive 1, 2 & 5 and a couple of frames of sealed brood and some empty drawn frames for the Queen to lay in. I also put in a frame of stores (honey and pollen). Using bees from 3 or more hives mens the bees don’t fight like they would if you mixed bee from only two hives.
I marked the ‘spare’ Queen and released her into the hive. I had sprayed all the frames with sugar water, to keep the bees occupied, and also added a feeder with 1:1 sugar/water. This should give the new colony a boost, get the Queen accepted by the colony, and get her laying.