Sunday, April 12, 2009

Last transfer from Kenyan nuc to Kenyan TBH

This morning I did the last transfer of the season from my Kenyan nuc that I hived a cast into in a previous blog entry. Very simply, I set the full size hive on the cinder block that the nuc was sat on together with another block at the rear. Just lifted the top bars off and straight into the full size kenyan, taking care to keep the same order. The bees were in their 'linked arms' chains making comb and I had to gently pull them apart to move them. They had built about half a dozen small combs but the bees were nice and gentle. I give these a 3 in my temperament scale. I left the upturned nuc by the entrance so that the stragglers could walk back into their new home. I put on the queen includer at the entrance just in case and will remove it in a couple of days. I am giving them, and the rest of my Kenyans, the whole hive with a full set of top bars. I am not using divider boards. I will be leaving them for six months and they will manage their brood nest and honey storage to suit themselves. They have been doing this for millions of years so why do we sometimes think we know better and manage it for them. All you need to ensure is that the brood nest is next to the entrance and they will put the honey stores at the back of the hive away from any potential robbers. Before I leave I will put entrance restrictors on 75 x 7.5mm in case there is any robbing and they can defend better. I will be putting these on all the kenyans and warre hives. So my Spanish beekeeping season is just about complete. There are many flowers producing now with Olive to flower in May and also the Spanish Broom (Retamar) as well. I hope my bees take full advantage, especially if it is to be a really hot summer.

The dearth period will begin in June, everything green will frazzle and turn brown except the olive and citrus trees and some thyme on the hillside. The bees will stop brood rearing and have to survive on the honey they have stored. They will cool the hive with evaporative cooling, bringing in water and spreading it on the combs and fanning at strategic places. In a really bad year, all drones will be dispensed with! This is the danger period until the first blossom breaks the dearth period, probably late August early September, a scruffy plant known as 'Inula Viscosa' or 'Altabaca' in Spanish. It is a good source of pollen and nectar for the new generation of young bees. Luckily I have it growing all around the area. In the dearth of last year, I lost 3 out of 10 colonies. I am expecting to lose at least 6 colonies this year, but until I return in November I won't know if my 'no treatments' regime has caused further losses. At the moment I am up over twice the numbers I started with so 'no treatments' is a valid option!

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