It was a good week in the yard. The hives are building well and honey is adding up. By the looks of things I will be extracting a day or two next week. I like to extract when the hives get a bit too tall for my liking.
I had the pleasure of working with a couple new bee keepers this week and the issue of open queen cups came up. My thoughts may not be perfect but they work for me. If I see an empty cup I just scrape it off with a hive tool, they are normal and of no relevance. If I see queen cells on the frame or on the bottom of the frames I need to do something. That is a swarm cell or a supercedure cell and can cause issues. Even more than that I want to choose the genetics in my hive, NOT THE BEES. I buy my queens for the characteristics I like in the hive and would rather not have 1/2 of the hives genetics whatever drones were around.
I will take a good look at the hive and find the reason for the cell. Most often it is a space issue, (too many bees not enough comb). That doesn’t mean space, it means drawn comb. On occasion the bees have a hard time deciding to build in a box of new frames. This will cause them to be more crowded as the hive grows. I always try to pull up a couple frames of brood and eggs when adding a new box. This forces them to expand the brood nest a bit and most often gets them going into the new box. I do the same with honey supers, bringing a couple drawn frames up or adding them to the box ahead of time. It seems wet ones or ones with a bit of honey or nectar work best.
The other reason I have seen for queen cells is a poor or aging queen. I don't see this often but when I can’t place the blame on space I often place it on the queen and I will pull the queen. Go through the hive taking out any queen cells, then give the hive the correct amount of space and shake the bees off to the landing. 24 hours later or so I will add the new queen in a cage to be slowly released by the hive. I have never had an issue after doing this, (that does not mean I have never had a swarm I didn't see), but it seems to work for me. I do the same exact thing for a laying worker hive, minus the removal of the old queen.
This week in the yards we checked for space, added boxes where we needed, and trimmed the grass around the hive. The bees were a bit more grumpy than normal. I was not going into the hives much so I skipped the gear and the smoker. Sure enough one stung me right under the chin. I now know how a turkey feels as my lower chin swelled giving me a feeling and look of having a turkey waddle.
We will be starting a couple of batches of Honey Mead this week if all goes well. When we bottle honey the last bit of honey has a bit more of the wax and pollen in it. We often save it for home use or use it in goods we enjoy. This will be the beginning of a delightful batch of Mead. We will post the results and the progression in the future.
- Check for space. No need to bust into the hives unless you see or feel an issue. Just pop the top look for space and do what's needed.
- Start to get extracting lined up. Either prep your gear or find a friend.