A stock is a full or nearly full-sized colony already on combs with a laying queen, brood of all ages, and stores. It is an expensive way to start and a beginner lacks the experience to carry out the necessary swarm-control procedures, so it is not advisable.
A swarm is a variable number of adult bees which have left a hive with a queen but without combs and brood. A prime swarm may consist of thirty thousand bees and will have a laying queen at least one year old. Smaller swarms, which leave the parent colony after the prime swarm, are called casts and contain virgin queens.
Swarms may be available without payment but there is always some risk in taking in a stray swarm. If a prime swarm is available from known bees, this is a good way to start.
The bees are ready to begin wax making and if put on to frames of foundation they will soon draw out combs. In a good season an early swarm might give a little surplus honey the first year but it cannot be expected.
A Nucleus is a small colony of bees on three, four or five frames with a young laying queen, brood and stores. This is a good starting point because a beginner will more easily learn to spot the queen and to examine frames in a small colony, which will develop as his experience does. It will build up to a full-sized stock by the winter, ready to store surplus honey the next season.
Whoever supplies your bees may, if he be local, help you install them in your hive; if not, an experienced beekeeper may lend a hand. The beginner’s first experience of handling bees alone should not be the transfer of a nucleus or the hiving of a swarm.
Gloves make rather difficult the delicate task of handling of combs of bees, but if it is found necessary to protect the hands and forearms against stings, a leather pair may be obtained from the bee appliance dealers. The thin rubber gloves now available from chemists have been found suitable by some beekeepers particularly if the gap between glove and sleeve is covered by a short cuff.
Many beekeepers prefer to work with bare hands but with some form of cuff fitting closely at the wrists.
Artificial Swarm Method
Move the original Parent Colony hive with the brood, Bees Queen cell and queen about one metre to one side of it’s original location with the entrance facing the same direction.
Prepare a new hive with frames of drawn comb or foundation, remove three frames leaving a space in the center (you will use these frames later) Then place the new empty spare hive now the Artificial swarm colony hive where the Parent Colony hive WAS. Check the Parent Colony hive ,take the marked frame with the Queen and brood in various stages, along with all the bees on it, ensure there are no queen cells and put it into the middle of the Artificial swarm colony hive , add one of the empty frames of fully-drawn foundation so that the queen has room to continue laying eggs immediately, rather than wait for the workers to draw out cells on the new foundation. Select an additional frame of brood in all stages of development and ample food stores and move this to the Artificial swarm colony hive, Remember this must NOT contain any more queen cells Remember the Artificial swarm colony hive is in the original place of the Parent Colony hive. So you are putting the old queen back in her previous location with food stores and combs of sealed brood and foraging /flying bees Ensure there are food reserves in the combs of the Parent Colony hive and it is never advisable to split existing brood with empty frames , close all the frames together and insert new frames removed from the Artificial swarm colony hive earlier at the outer edges to completely fill the brood box.
Put the queen excluder, supers, crown board and roof back onto the Artificial swarm colony hive. This procedure has now produced an artificial swarm, giving you another colony and without the loss of honey production. The Parent Colony hive will behave as if a swarm has just departed as it is now Queenless with nursery bees, Queen cells and some foraging bees, but the forager /flying bees will return to the Artificial swarm colony hive hive thinking it’s the Parent Colony hive. The nursery bees in the Parent Colony hive will act as normal and raise the queen cells until one is hatched or selected. The Artificial swarm colony hive will behave as if it has just swarmed and set up a new colony, consisting of the existing queen, all the flying bees, and plenty of honey to start comb-building and brood-rearing straight away. Do not feed straight away, wait a couple of days. Feeding sugar syrup immediately could cause robbing. For brood promotion use a 50/50 mix. Wait …………for 7 days After exactly seven days, usually one day before the new virgin queen is due to emerge from her cell, we need to move the parent colony hive to a new location.
Move the Parent Colony hive one metre on the opposite side of the Artificial swarm colony hive. The forager /flying bees from this Parent Colony Hive will return to find their home missing and will go to the nearest hive, which will be the Artificial swarm colony hive and because the new queen has not hatched , they will not have an unfamiliar ‘Queen pheromone ‘ on them – this means that the guard bees at the entrance will freely allow them enter. This will help build up the loss of bees in the Artificial swarm colony hive and will encourage the growth of the colony . This procedure also reduces the risk of flying bees leaving the Parent Colony hive with a new queen, known as a cast swarm, because it leaves fewer flying bees in the Parent Colony hive The Parent Colony hive is a very weak because it has lost all the flying bees (their main defence force). For this reason do not feed them for 2 days, giving them enough time to organise their defences against honey-robbing. Check the Artificial swarm colony hive to see if the old queen has continued to lay and there are no queen cells. Wait at least 14 days and up to 21 days …then check the Parent Colony hive to see if the new queen has been mated and is laying. If the weather has been bad or there is no sign of eggs or larvae be prepared to re-unite the two hives. This can sometimes happen if the queen cannot fly to mate. Once you know the queen is laying in the Parent Colony hive you can either unite the two hives and remove the old queen or increase your number of colonies. Sometimes a virgin queen will swarm as soon as she has hatched, taking all the flying bees and as much honey as they can carry. Now this new queen will have few (if any) flying bees in her colony when she hatches, so this ‘cast’ swarm is almost certainly weak and vulnerable This is probably the most commonly used method of carrying out artificial swarm control. The rule of thumb is to master one method before trying others, do not try to attempt various methods because you could confuse yourself, or at worst even loose your bees
Beekeeping is a hobby which has an appeal to people in all walks of life. It can be practised with success not only in the country but also in many suburban areas and even successfully in towns & cities. Most beekeepers have only a few colonies and find their care a fascinating and often profitable spare-time occupation, though there is an important minority who keep bees on a scale large enough to give them a livelihood.
Together, whether as professionals or as amateurs, they make a significant contribution to the nation’s food requirements, directly in the form of honey and indirectly through the activities of their bees on those crops that depend upon insect pollinators for a good set of fruit or seed.
Unlike many other forms of livestock, honeybees do not demand regular daily attention from their owners. They forage for themselves whenever the weather is suitable, collecting pollen and nectar from flowering trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, both wild and cultivated, which offer them a succession of sources of food from early spring until the autumn.
Food not needed for immediate consumption by the bees and their brood (Young Bees) is stored in the combs for use when the weather is unsuitable for foraging.
By the end of the summer a healthy colony of bees is capable of storing not only enough food for its own requirements during the winter months but also, over and above this amount, a quantity of honey which the beekeeper can harvest for himself. The yield of honey for the beekeeper will depend upon the kind and quantity of bee forage plants to be found in the locality and the weather conditions prevailing when the various sources of forage come into flower. After a good summer in a district with plenty of nectar-yielding plants it can exceed 100 lb from one colony, but in a bad year the beekeeper may get no honey at all and have to feed his colonies with sugar to enable them to survive until the following spring. Basically, the beekeeper’s task is twofold:
Provide his bees with sound hives whose capacity must be enlarged or reduced according to seasonal requirements
Discover any other situations within the stocks that may need attention from time to time.
In order to do these things the stocks may need to be examined at intervals from April to September. But from October to March only an occasional visit is normally necessary, to ensure that all is well externally.
Pleasurable beekeeping calls for an ability to work among bees at close quarters, handling their combs gently and deliberately. The prospective beekeeper should, therefore, first find out whether he is temperamentally suited to acquire the necessary skill before committing himself to the expense of setting up an apiary. This he can best do by handling bees under the guidance of an experienced beekeeper. Some local authorities offer advice and instruction assistance at this stage, and the beginner should make application to the local beekeepers’ association . By joining such a group he gains the opportunity of meeting experienced local beekeepers and the benefits offered by the society to its members.