I spent Sunday evening painting hive parts and making frames in preparation for the new bee nucs.
It was a long hot day and we had spent the morning attending the local agricultural show, but as the morning reached midday it got too hot for the children so we headed home.
I didn't realise I had so many hive parts, but once gathered I could see I had collected quite a few.
So I spent the next few hours painting and repainting brood boxes, supers and nuc boxes and then set about making up new brood frames for the coming nucs.
I was told that they were strong five frame nucs that would need to be moved into full hives as soon as possible.
I got a call shortly before 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning. It was the bee breeder informing me that he was about to arrive in my village.
He had brought his bees to forage on the rape flowers in county Tipperary, some 3-4 hrs away.
He had made up many nucs as the bees did well on the rape flower and was bringing his bees and nucs home.
I left my warm bed and went to meet him in the village. He was waiting for me and had already unloaded two nucs out of the back of his van. We both did not have any bee suits or gloves with us.
A few bees had escaped and were flying around the back of his van. These will find themselves quite lost when delivery is done and the van drives off.
I took two nucs, one which had a marked queen and another that did not. They felt like a good weight and he assured me that I should find them quieter than my other bees.
Laziness took over as I approached home and I briefly considered leaving them in the rear of the car until the morning. I would not be putting them into the full hives until the morning and with the nucs sealed up, I just needed somewhere to leave them for the night. So why not the car, I told myself.
Common sense prevailed and I decided to put on gloves and move them into a stable for the night.
In the morning while doing the morning jobs of feeding the animals and collecting eggs, I could see a large amount of bees flying in and out over the stable door!
But I did not release them form the nuc. They had done that themselves it seemed.
It was before 9 am and the temperatures already was hot. I dreaded the thoughts of putting on a bee suit in this heat but as the day would lengthen, the heat was only going to build!
With my bee suit on, I put my equipment into a wheelbarrow and put the two nucs into it and wheeled it into the orchard were I had previously set up the hives.
It took some effort to take off the wire mesh that was stapled into the top of the nucs. I quickly took out the five frames and placed them in sequence into the hive.
It was refreshingly easy to find the queen who was marked with a large red spot.
I also did my weekly check on the original hive. They were aggressive last week when I did my inspection and had lots of drone brood. I knew they were thinking of swarming.When I checked them today, they had two frames less brood,from ten to eight frames, so the queen is slowing down her lay as she begins to slim down for flight.
They were equally as aggressive. I found many new queen cells, maybe ten extra but I checked everyone to see if she had laid in them yet. She had not!
Queen cells are larger and resemble a peanut shell and they always point downwards, unlike regular brood cells.
Next week I expect that they will be laid in but not sealed. It takes nine days from egg to sealed queen cell. About the time the cells are sealed, the queen leaves with the foraging bees to a new home.
The remaining bees are house/nurse bees with several queen cells that will hatch. The first queen to hatch kills any other queen cells and then takes her mating flight. If all goes well, she should be in full lay within three weeks of hatching.
I intend to spilt the hive when I see occupied queen cells. I will not let them swarm naturally.
When I was in the garden today, I was watching the bee activity at the freshly painted hives. Scout bees were out looking for a potential home. You can see them in the above photo, flying in front of the middle hive.
There was up to twenty bees flying in and out at any one time. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed the hive was already occupied. They choose this hive because it has several old frames still inside which would have attracted them by the pheromones.
Little do they realise that I had already chosen that hive, although it will be moved into the orchard by then.