Hive comb change begins – my first attempt

This weekend I started the process of moving my bees onto the larger 12×14 frames using a comb change process. But, I got off to an inauspicious start. I loaded the car up with the bits and bobs then drove to the apiary. However; once there I discovered I’d forgotten the key to the gate, this meant I drove home swearing.

Hive parts ready for the change.

Key picked up I lugged the larger brood box and ashforth feeder down to the hive. I have to park on the road and carry my equipment to the hives, I have seen people drive their cars down there but it’s on an allotment with a steep muddy road and anyway the walk does me good.

Hive with new brood box in placeThe process itself was relatively simple, I’ve got about five frames of brood at all stages in the standard box and a super with a little capped brood left over from my winter brood and half set-up. So I separated these and placed the new brood box between the super and original brood box. Once the brood have hatched from the super I’ll remove that.

These are really gentle bees so it was a drama free exercise that only took about ten minutes. I’m going to give them two weeks to build out the new foundation and then I’ll try to move the queen into the new box. Topping the stack off with an ashforth feeder and some syrup to get them laying and wax building meant my work was done.

Hopefully in three weeks I’ll be onto 12x14s just in time for swarm control and (fingers crossed) a second hive.

Eek! My eke.

Peak Hives EkeAs I’ve already mentioned I’m in the process of moving my hive from national frames to 12 x 14 national frames. This has meant I’ve got a handful of standard national brood boxes knocking around the garden looking dejected as they know they’ll never feel the warm embrace of a hive again. I felt a little sorry for them and I’m a bit mean so wanted to save some money by investing in an eke from Nick at Peak Hives to convert my standard national boxes into its chubby cousin.

Oh dear a gap!Beekeeping is probably the best smelling hobby in the World, opening the box from Peak Hives released that wonderful cedar scent. As per normal the workmanship from Nick was superb. However; when I placed the eke onto the brood box there was a large gap between the two. The runners were lifting up the eke leaving a space which was undoubtedly a problem.

 

A few minutes later I’d removed the runners using my Leatherman tool, if you haven’t got yourself one of these pocket marvels they are a worthwhile investment. With the runners removed the gap had narrowed considerably. There is still a smaller gap My trusty leatherman to the rescuewhich I’m going to spend a little more fiddling around with a wood plane making the box beetight.

On balance I think these boxes will probably me more useful as spares than full time bee boxes. The eke does fit nicely and because there are groves that slot into the where the frames normally sit it’s quite study byt it is still an extra part I don’t want in an everyday hive.

At least I want have redundant boxes nagging at me whenever I go in the shed, that’s worth a extra little effort.

 

First inspection

In hindsight starting a beekeeping blog in January wasn’t the smartest move, although, this is a rarely visited blog so no harm no foul. As a new beekeeper I didn’t really have much to write about over the winter. However; now the season has started I’m sure I’ll have plenty to keep you, the nonexistent reader, entertained.

Spring finally spring today and gave me the opportunity to get down to the apiary and crack open the hive. During the winter I’d left a super on and removed the Queen Excluder. The super provided extra stores and without the queen excluder I wasn’t running the risk of the cluster moving up to consume those stores and leaving the queen on the wrong side of the excluder.

Whenever ‘brood and a half’ is mentioned at my association meetings there is much frowning, tutting and muttering of disapproval. I never really understood why it was such a bad idea, however, popping the hive all became clear; it makes an awful mess.

The hive is already bubbling with bees and in the super there was already some capped brood with was a great relief to find the hive had made it through the winter. However; my girls had joined both boxes with comb and filled it with brood. It took a good ten minutes of work to separate to two boxes and slip a queen excluder between the two boxes.

I’m now waiting until next week to remove the super and slap a 12×14 brood box on top this, I’m hoping, will allow me to do a comb change and more the bees onto 12×14 frames.

This should mean no more brood and a half for me, so I can join the disapproving masses.