As Coronavirus continues to alter our daily routines, our resident EPC-UK beekeeper, Andy Bailey remains committed to supporting the hives on our Rough Close Works farming estate in Derbyshire. Here is his most recent report on how the EPC-UK bees have faired through April:
WWF work on hold
I have made two visits to Rough Close Works this month. The first inspection at the beginning of April confirmed my assumption that the colony with nosema – the most common honeybee disease – would die out. On inspecting the colony there was no sign of life. To stop other bees from entering the hive and potentially spreading the disease I blocked the entrance off and resolved to remove the hive and clean it out on my next visit. All the other hives seem to be doing well.
Creating an artificial swarm can be a detailed process, however in simple terms it involves separating the queen and flying bees from the brood using colony manipulations. The principle can help with different elements of bee management, from natural swarming, to controlling varroa (a parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on honeybees).
A beekeeper can manipulate the bees so that they think they have swarmed, but to do this one first has to identify and remove the queen to a new hive, together with an amount of brood and food from the original hive and some undrawn foundation.
This divides the colony into two. The remaining bees without the queen make a new queen and the original queen starts to lay more eggs to build up a new colony. To do this successfully the queen has to be identified and the easiest way to do this is to mark her with a special paint.
Bee colour code
On my first visit I was unable again to find the two unmarked queens, but I did manage to fit queen excluders onto the two colonies with marked queens and honey supers. The queen excluders stop the queen from travelling up into the honey supers and laying eggs. If we are fortunate to get any honey from either of these colonies this year, we need to ensure that the queen remains in the brood box and does not lay eggs in the honey supers.
Successful second visit
Until next time please keep safe.