This year I’ve grown my hive estate from one to two. Earlier in the season I completed a comb change, it went so well I was left with two 12×14 brood boxes bursting with bees. I keep my hives at my local association apiary and take advantage of the many experienced beekeepers that attend the regular apiary meetings by asking their advice on what options I should consider when managing my hives. Consensus between them is hardly ever reached but it’s always very encouraging to listen to various points of view over the lashings of tea and cake available as such meetings.
The conversation boiled down to two options. The first, to leave the hive alone and hope for a bumper crop of honey. The second was to use the artificial swarm technique to produce another hive. One of my goals this year has been to add more hives so it was a pretty simple decision. A few weeks later I had a new mated queen and a second hive. Unfortunately it seems to have picked up a minor chalk brood infection but I decided not to treat, mainly because I’ve read that good queens can deal with this problem and would rather treat less where possible.
Shortly after that the original hive superseded the queen so now I have two queens, one produced from an emergency cell and the other from a supersedure. The emergency queen is small and dark, it’s taken her a number of weeks to overcome chalk brood and the hive is still very small. The queen produced from the supersedure is large, honey coloured, laying like crazy and this week I’ve taken two full supers off that hive.
I was really very surprised to get such different queens from the same mother. I’m now concentrating on building them both up to overwinter. The weaker hive in particular I’m giving special love and attention by feeding it using the Hive Alive supplement – I’ll let you know how that works out.