New Colony (again)

New colony in different hives in one month

A new colony addition to my bee inventory

So I bought a colony from a fellow beekeeper about a month ago. To accompany my other colony, which I’ve been bitching about for two years. Even though the old colony is the only ones which is still alive sinse I first started my beekeeping experience, three years ago. I have a spot for them close by home, at our communal vegetable garden. The other colony is staying where they are, about 3 km from my home. I must say a month later that having the colony a five minute walk from home is really very nice. They are getting way more attention than my other colony, who compared to the new colony I now know are a vicious bunch. I’ll add a video where I move them from an old hive to a new Styrofoam home, you will be able to see how docile they are.

The new colony is of the carnica variant (Apis mellifera carnica) and came out of winter in a 6 frame hive with a F1 queen, first generation pure breed. Beekeepers are racists I know, we don’t like subspecies intermixing….which is a conundrum for me as biologist (I could explain why I think that is a conundrum but I don’t want to make this post to long, maybe somewhere else).

Upgrading the hive

The beekeeper from who I bought the colony placed it, from his wooden 6 frame hive, into my 6 frame Styrofoam hive. He did this a few days in advance of me collecting the colony. I placed the hive in our communaal vegetable garden, close to home. They were flying like crazy in the unseasonably warm weather the first week on the new location. The first truly warm weather of the year. I can remember that I was still in my winter coat about three weeks before that time.

I’ve steadily upgraded the hive in the last month. Moving them from the 6 frame Styrofoam hive to a 10 frame wooden hive. Then to the 11 frame modern Styrofoam hive, bough especially for this colony. Finally I added a second brood box with an additional 11 frames a little over a week ago. I placed 3 frames with brood from the bottom brood box into the center of the new brood box. The rest of the box I filled with frames containing wax foundation. I did this to stimulate the bees to move into the top brood box and build comb onto the foundation. I’m not sure if this truly is a stimulus for comb building and I don’t have enough colonies to experiment.

I don’t expect any swarming this year but I’ll keep a keen eye on the garden bees. I have a look at/in the hive entrance every time I’m on the communal vegetable garden which is at least twice a week. And I just placed a second brood box on the the park bees hive not to long ago so I guess their fine (that’s how I’ll be calling them from now on).


Quiet here -updated

I haven’t posted for a while, partly because I have a new job and partly because very little has happened with the bees. I just put on a second brood chamber and I’m still not sure if I’ll have to create an artificial swarm this season and if I’ll be using a honey chamber this year or not. I think not as it is already past the summer solstice. I’m still not so sure about this queen the colony seems to be growing very slowly, maybe I’ll remove her next month if I feel the colony is still lagging.
I met a fellow apiarist at the apiary this Friday who I hadn’t seen there before (although that isn’t saying much). He told me he had 5 hives there which were proving more work than what he had bargained for. and was willing to sell a colony to lighten his load. As I haven’t heard anything about the other colony I maybe could take over, I am anxious to get my hands on a second colony from somewhere.
Update: Well I bought a colony from the guy I mentioned above. The fellow apiarist had just taken an artificial swarm from the colony and was waiting for the new queen to start laying before selling it. Well, the queen is laying like crazy as far as I can tell. We checked the hive today and the colony, on a single brood chamber right now, is already pretty big with about 7 frames full of brood at the moment. I’ll have to add the second brood chamber pretty soon or the single brood chamber will start feeling cramped.
I’ll try to take a picture of the queen next time I see her, in my eyes she is enormous. Unmarked as of yet something I would like to start doing but that requires some . Certainly compared to the queen in my first colony. I’ll have to start naming the colonies which I have read people do, to help keep them apart on the blog. I’ll have to put some thought in that.
My first colony is still plodding along, no hurry. I think I’m going to replace the queen, hopefully with a queen from this second colony. I think I’ll remove the queen and then add a frame with eggs from the second colony, hoping that eggs from the second queen will produce a queen with a similar productivity. I wan’t to face the winter with two strong colonies.
I’ll keep you updated. (Dutch version: link)