This morning I had to fit in a hive inspection, it is a routine weekly event during swarming season. I had to check through the frames and make sure there were no queen cells being built. It felt a little like a chore and I had to stop myself before I did it and remember that at every inspection at this time of year, I have to be ready to act if I find queen cells. It was just as well I prepared myself because the third frame I pulled was covered in swarm cells all charged with eggs and royal jelly. Unfortunately this is also the hive in which I have not marked the queen. I spent some time trying to find her until I committed to the decision of carrying on regardless. I set them to the side a little and set up an empty hive. Then I carried out a sort of shook swarm where I shook all the bees into the new hive. With a queen excluder over the shook swarm I placed all the frames and the old hive on top. With all the bees having been shaken off it was much easier to find all the queen cells and destroy them all but one. The frame on which I left a single queen cell was treated with care. I made sure I did not shake it; instead I brushed the bees off with my boar’s hair brush. I never thought I would ever need such a brush.

The high rise system is to be left for another twenty four hours before splitting it up. I think that I will now make it my life’s ambition to mark and clip the queen in this hive. If only to make it easier to find and cull her before heading into winter. Her daughters do not seem to produce as much honey as the other hive, and in her first year she should not have felt the urge to swarm. It seems cold and heartless but I am told that it is the accepted fashion to only keep a queen for a couple of years before buying in another from queen breeders. Whatever the outcome, it has left me a little anxious as the artificial swarm has used up all the spare equipment. If the other hive decides to do the same then I will have a serious problem. An order from a supplier is on the way but the delivery is an unknown. I chose to use a supplier who is a cottage industry. The craftsmanship is part art and the wood is sourced locally. I don’t regret this decision one bit, I regret not having the wit to put my order in earlier.

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