The Mysterious Shrinking Queen and Other Tales!

Posted: 11th October 2018

Chris and I had fantastic weather for our late season inspection of the apiary, but we weren’t there to do an actual inspection. At this time of year, there is virtually no risk of swarming and we are more likely to do more harm than good if we start to take the hive apart now, so we were there simply to assess how much honey has been produced and remove any complete super frames.

I took 16 full frames (just over 1.5 supers) from our one remaining hive, the National, and Chris took several supers of honey from his 10 hives.  

We also encountered a bit of a locked room mystery! One of Chris’s queens had somehow managed to get through the queen excluder and lay down brood in a super. This is amazing as the queen excluder appeared to be intact. We can only think that she lost some weight and somehow managed to squeeze through!

We have left at least one super on all of the hives to ensure the bees have good stores for the winter, and if we are have a mild Autumn they may bring in more nectar and produce some more honey. Bees are such generous insects, producing way more honey than they actually need. Other honey producers - such as bumble bees - produce just enough for their own use but only a limited amount, however workaholic honeybees just keep on going. Yields this year are expected to be better than last year but are still below average however, possibly as a result of the drought. The honey we have harvested will all be extracted and jarred in due course.

I've also fitted a heavier-duty strap to the National this year, just in case we get any strong winds over the coming months. Several times in the past, wintry gusts at Honeydale have flipped the roofs off the hives.

We'll go back in a few weeks to see how the hives are doing, and also apply this years varroa treatment.

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It's always been part of our vision to have a farm as an extension of the Cotswold Seeds business and in 2013 we bought Honeydale Farm, one hundred acres in the Cotswolds. During the past couple of years we've been making huge progress on the farm and this blog was set up to share this progress with our friends in the farming world.