The great thing about being part of a local association is that people are there to help you out when you need something.
And so it was with our new bees. When we told people that we had lost our colony over winter, and were looking for some new bees to get started again, Ian, one of the association members, very kindly offered one of his hives, as he had got 6 hives and 6 nucs through the winter, and this was more than he needed.
Without too much trouble, we found the queen, and named her Rose, after Rose Gardens, where our Community Garden is located (although not where our bees are). After Ian had left, he sent a text saying ‘I forgot to say, she’s marked white, but she’s a 2012 queen’. According to standard convention, white is used for years ending in 1 and 6, and yellow would be used for years ending in 2 and 7.
As it was getting a bit late in the year for a shook swarm, we decided to undertake a bailey comb change, to provide them fresh comb in the brood nest. Pests and diseases can build up in the brood comb, and so regular (annual) comb changing is encouraged.Here we have the brood box that they came in (the green one), with a second brood box on top. In the bottom brood box, they are confined to 6 frames with the use of a dummy board, and 6 frames of foundation sit above this in the top box, also confined by a dummy board.
The bees will draw out the new foundation, and with space limited for laying in the bottom, the queen will move up to the top box and start laying there. Once she starts to do this, we will make sure she is in the top box, and put a queen excluder between the two. The brood from the bottom box will emerge over the next 21 days (and the queen excluder prevents any more eggs being laid there), and can then be removed.
This is a slightly ‘gentler’ way of changing combs than a shook swarm, but also does not result in a brood break like a shook swarm does, and is therefore less effective a knocking back varroa.