Dave Bonner inspected the branch bees, so in these times of lockdown, here’s his update:
“I did the first inspections of the Branch Bees on Saturday. Things are looking good.
Previously I had set them up so that the 5 strong colonies were ready for a Bailey Comb change, 1 medium colony had an empty super on and two were weak.
4 of the strong colonies had built up dramatically and were into the new brood box, so the next stage of the comb change has been started – with the queen trapped in the new brood box. Next time the feeders will be removed and a couple of supers put on the hives.
The 5th colony had not got into the new brood box, so I took that away and put a super on. The colony is not strong enough to draw out new comb. I do not know why that should be.
The medium colony was doing OK and bringing in a lot of nectar, so a 2nd super was put on it.
1 of the weak colonies is starting to grow but the other is declining, I suspect bad Nosema – if there is no progress next time I will be despatching it.
There is quite a strong nectar flow. Therefore, a medium to strong colony will require space, so put supers, one or two, onto your hives, drawn comb if you have it, but the bees will draw out foundation .
Give the queen a chance to get a good amount of brood in all stages (end of April) and then think about marking her. The reason for this is in case you damage her, there will be plenty of eggs/young larva to produce a new queen AND there will be mature drones available for a virgin queen to mate with.
Take care and stay safe.