I went to check on two of my out apiaries today, upon arrival at the first site, I went to light my smoker……… Ah! I had forgotten to bring any smoker fuel – oops! Good job my bees are docile, so I carried out my inspections without smoke.

One of the hives, which I found the queen dead outside 10 days ago, had a nice virgin queen running around. She should hopefully get mated this week, as the weather forecast is not too bad for the next week or so.

Below is a video showing some new bees carrying out orientation flights outside their hive. Age related tasks of honey bees culminate in foraging, this being the final group of tasks they perform before death. … Young bees walk out of the hive, fly a short distance in front, turn by 180 degrees so that they are facing the hive, then hover back and forth in arcs. After a few moments the orientation flight becomes characterised by the ever increasing circles around and above the hive and after a few minutes the bee returns to its hive without carrying any pollen or nectar (Capaldi and Dyer 1999).

Orientation flights allow bees to set their internal navigation system, so they remember where the entrance to their hive is, allowing them to navigate back after foraging for nectar, pollen and water.

Most of the hives have been using the honey stored in the supers, as we are in what is known as the June gap – the period between spring/early summer forage ending, and the late summer forage starting. Sometimes it is necessary to feed hives during this period, but as I have not taken any honey from the hives yet, my bees do not need additional feed. This could be a problem if a honey crop is your main focus in beekeeping, but I see any honey as an added extra. My main focus is on queen rearing.

I have 10 queen cells in the incubator at the moment, some queens due to emerge Wednesday, the remainder are due 5 – 6 days later. As I have a few queen less hives, these new queens will be going into those hives.

Here is a short video of one of last years queens walking around a frame of brood this afternoon, you can see how placid these bees are, and all without smoke.

The queens are all doing a lovely job, with solid brood patterns in their brood nests.

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Lovely freshly capped brood
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The zig-zag lines are where the wire foundation support is, a lot of queens will not lay eggs in the cells above the wire.
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Nice solid brood pattern
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One of last years queens walking around the frames.

I didn’t make it to my Lytchett Matravers site, I will have to go there in the next day or two.

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