I am working on a 7 day schedule with the bees. I check them every 7 days during swarm season.
Swarming is probable in Ireland from late May to Early August. So at the moment we are in the midst of it.
Once a queen has laid in a queen cell, it takes 9 days for the workers to seal it. By the time it is sealed, the swarm with the original queen and the foraging workers have left. This, as a beekeeper I wish to prevent.
I would loose my honey crop and be left with a weaker hive that needs to build up again for winter.
So I check the hive every 7 days to be extra careful. I lost a swarm last year and I don't want to make that mistake again.
When I inspect the hive, I am looking for signs of preparing to swarm.
Today I noted that the hive has built up to 10 frames of brood. Looking at my notes, on 11/6/13 just three weeks ago, the hive had only 4 frames.
So things are going very well for them. I also noticed a large increase in drone brood. So they are thinking about it!
They have had since spring, 3 empty queen cells, one of which can be seen on the photo above.
I check these every week to see if they have been laid in, but if they were to swarm I would expect them to build another 10-15 queen cells.
So when I would inspect the hive it would be very clear their intent!
We will receive a further two nucs next week. I also intend to spilt our current hive, hence the reason I put three brood boxes on it.
I will need to order more hive parts. We hope to have 4-5 full hives going into winter.
We have decided against overwintering nucs in the future, so we will have to build them up for the winter in full hive bodies.
I got my first bee stings of the season today. Three in total!
They were very upset today, can be a sign of swarming, and crawled up my trouser at a gap around my ankles and stung my ankle and thighs.
The stings don't better me so much now, I recover much quicker than before.
But I looked like a walking swarm, at one point I considered hosing them off.
It took a good forty minutes of walking around a field and shaking them off before I could enter the house. And at that I found more in my clothes as I got undressed.