What are the Cemetery bees up to?
What goes on inside a bee hive? Frames with wax foundation go into the brood box at the base. This is where the queen lays her eggs and the worker bees create enough food stores to last them through the winter. The supers (boxes above the brood box) also contain frames and this is where surplus honey is stored and later harvested by the beekeeper. The queen excluder (between the brood box and supers) stops the queens getting into the supers. Without this she would get into the supers and lay eggs and you would then have crunchy honey.
In April beekeepers need to check the health of their bee colonies and the quality of the comb they inhabit. Old brood comb can be misshapen or have large areas chewed out by the bees. This can make the comb weak, hard to manage and leaves fewer cells available for storing food or raising brood. Old comb can also harbour varroa mite and other harmful pathogens.
Our beekeeper undertook a shook swarm process – shaking all of the adult bees out of their hives into newly cleaned hives filled with frames of foundation and some clean comb. He took the opportunity to move to new National hives, which are easier and lighter to work with.
This is a disruptive process and means sacrificing all of the existing brood but we are optimistic that they will make replacement comb quickly and should still be able to produce a crop of honey. So the Cemetery bees are particularly busy now collecting pollen and building up the combs.
Our beekeeper is permitted to tend to his bees as often as necessary during the pandemic – as bees are livestock.
To see a brief video of our bees at this time go to https://youtu.be/D88IuZmiTKE