With temperatures dropping slowly and snow in the air, keep hefting the hives. If they feel light then top up with or add fondant as required.
Try not to disturb the hive too much by opening up unnecessarily as the bees will have to work doubly hard to replace the heat lost.
Now is good time clean frames and other kit and make shopping lists for BeeTradex to replace or just treat yourself to that new piece of equipment.
The Demaree Method of Swarm Prevention with thanks to Barnsley Beekeepers Association
A more extreme mechanism for preventing swarms is the Demaree method of swarm prevention. The method was first explained by George Demaree in an article in the American Bee Journal in 1884. This method is similar to most methods of artificial swarming in that it relies on separating the eggs and brood from the queen although, unlike swarm control, the demaree method is more aimed at pre-emptive action before any queen cells appear.
The Demaree Method
This method splits the hive with the queen and flying bees below the queen excluder and the brood and nurse bees above. This alleviates overcrowding and prevents any swarming urge. Over the next 3½ weeks as the brood above emerges and having destroyed or removed any queen cells, the old “mother” box can be taken away leaving a full strength colony behind.
The technique is also useful for making increase. Following the split, the top box is likely to produce a number of emergency queen cells (more likely if there is a degree of separation from the box with the queen by having 2 or 3 supers between). The top box can then be split into a couple of nuclei or, a number of queen cells can be used to make up nuclei using bees from other colonies.
Other than the queen, the bees are left free to move between all the boxes of the split colony during the process. Thus the colony remains at full strength throughout.
This method requires an additional brood box with foundation (preferably drawn) but other than this, requires no other special equipment.
Keys to Success
The keys to the success of this method are:
to only perform the manipulations when the colony is ready. That is, the colony must be ready to swarm. Key indicators will be brood on 8 or more combs, lots of drones and early signs of queen cell production (queen cups being extended).
the queen must be found therefore marking her early in the season will be of benefit.
timing – queen cells must be removed in good time to prevent forcing the colony to swarm.
Have prepared a second brood box with foundation (some of which should ideally be drawn).
Remove the roof and supers and place the old brood box to one side. Place the new brood box on the old floor and remove 2 frames from the centre to create a space.
Find the queen* and place her and a frame of brood (with unsealed brood) in the centre of the new brood box. Ensure there are no queen cells on this brood frame. Close up the gaps and add a spare frame at one end.
Place a queen excluder on the new brood box, followed by the supers and then the original brood box on top. Remove any queen cells that already exist in the original box (either destroy them or use to make up nuclei as desired). Add a spare frame to close up the gap. Replace the crown board and roof.
After 5 or 6 days inspect the top brood box and remove any queen cells (destroy or use for nuclei accordingly). To leave it any longer may result in the colony swarming. No further queen cells can be developed as there won’t be any available eggs or larvae.
After 25 days from the original manipulation, the top brood box can either be removed as all the brood will have emerged (or the two brood boxes can be placed together to make a double brood box at an earlier stage).
*Care should be taken not to drop the queen. She can be found and held in place using a push-in marking cage before the original brood box is moved to prevent her being dropped on the floor.
The nurse bees will stay mainly with the brood in the top brood box. The flying bees will continue to fly to and fro from the entrance in the bottom brood box. Some of these flying bees will become nurse bees and some of the nurse bees in the top box may relocate downwards to look after new brood there. This method leaves the workers completely free to move around the hive, so they will form their own natural balance.
Following the manipulation of the boxes, the colony will probably develop some emergency queen cells in the top brood box. If these are left, the colony may swarm, losing the old queen and most of the flying bees. Therefore, it is important that the beekeeper returns to remove any queen cells after 5 or 6 days. Timing is critical. After this, there should be no viable larvae from which new queen cells can be raised.
This method is aimed at keeping the colony together and preventing the bees from swarming. Although originally intended for use only once during the season, the bees may show signs of swarming again if they continue to build up. Therefore, many beekeepers repeat the process as often as necessary during the season.
Some beekeepers use this method to raise new queens whilst preventing swarming. When new queen cells appear in the top box, these can be used to re-queen other hives or to make up nucleus colonies. Care should be taken to remove or destroy all the queen cells in the top box as leaving just one to develop may result in the colony swarming.
This method is given as guidance only. After trying one or more key methods of swarm control, the beekeeper should go on to experiment and develop their own variations to suit their own preferences.
Copied with consent from Barnsley Beekeeping Association
The Beginners’ Practicals carry on through the summer right through to September, and are an important part of the training course - thought to be one of the best run in the West Midlands. Having hands-on experience before you get your own bees is very important and makes sure you are capable of dealing with the different situations you can find inside a hive.
Beginners Practical - Commence Thursdays (Weather permitting) 18:30hrs.
Sessions commence at the apiary in Twyning. Parking is available in the field next to the Farm House. We then have a short walk across the field to the apiary. Location of and directions to the apiary are posted in the members’ calendar area of the web site.
If you have your own bee suit, please bring it with you. The MUBKA suits are available for new beekeepers. Remember you will need welly type boots; marigold type gloves; and a baseball hat can be useful. A bottle of water is a sensible addition and following the session we can visit the local pub for further discussions where we can also purchase tea and coffee – I am told that they also serve beer and things like that!
Improvers Practical - Every other Thursday (Weather permitting) 18:30hrs.
For every member who has been beekeeping for more than a year we offer " Improver Sessions". The aim of these sessions is to develop beekeepers' understanding and skills and offer help and support. The expectation is that we all have more to learn and we rarely have all the answers!
Nosema Event –
Within MUBKA we have four microscopiscs who are willing to assist with testing your bees for the two types of Nosema which attack honeybees. You can bring samples of your bees for testing; please contact Phil for further information.
Microscopy Self Help Group
You will have seen from the recent e mail that Worcestershire Beekeeping Association WBKA (the Area Association of which we are a part) have asked if anyone is interested in a Microscopy Course. Casting the wider net does make this type of course much more viable and therefore if you have expressed an interest in our MUBKA self-help group please respond to the e mail from WBKA.
It is unlikely that there will be a need for two and therefore we will not be organising this type of session until we know if the WBKA course goes ahead. Incidentally they propose to host their training in Bromsgrove School which has excellent laboratory facilities and they may be able to arrange use of microscopes. Please note that if we arrange microscopy self-help groups in the future you will need access to the appropriate microscopes and equipment. The four microscopists in MUBKA are not able to loan or lend out their personal microscopes.
Bee Safari –
This year the Bee Safari is to take place in July 2017. As well as enjoying tea and cake, a picnic and hopefully a BBQ the Safari will visit several apiaries belonging to our members. Keren Green our National Bee Unit Seasonal Bee Inspector will lead the Safari talking us through how to inspect for disease as well as providing us with up to minute information from the National Bee Unit.
This event is an excellent learning experience as well as an enjoyable day out with the bees.
To meet the National Bee Unit requirements, we have to commit a minimum number of beekeepers so please support this event.
The purpose of the group is to promote responsible beekeeping, share experiences and best practice and provide talks / demonstrations to groups. We can also help landowners who would like bees on their land.
We have an active social calendar for those who want to participate, this includes several different courses, summer evening sessions in our teaching apiary and member's apiaries and our annual honey show.
If you live in or near Malvern or Upton upon Severn. Worcestershire, and have an interest in beekeeping then click here to contact us and we will help you.