Muppetry in Motion


There’s a reason I don’t clip the wings of my queens. Yes, I rarely find the queens which makes wing-clipping a moot point, but the main reason I don’t do it is that my queens need everything to be in their favour to survive my ineptitude. Even though my capacity for muppetry is exceedingly high, I astounded even myself yesterday.

I went to check on the bees. Hive five was a hive that was created last spring from a botched attempt at an artificial swarm without locating the queen. I stole a frame of brood with a sealed queen cell on it from another hive and miraculously it became queen-right. It was always a small hive and I wondered whether it would make it through the winter.

Well it did – and it is buzzing with bees.

bees and pollen.jpg

As the hive didn’t have a stand, I decided to give it one of the new stands I bought and painted. I am in the middle of painting my hives in bright colours – I thought it looked cool – this will be my undoing.

Having moved the hive and put the new stand in place, I realised the brood box was unpainted wood – squeak, I thought, I could put the frames in another green brood box that I had and then paint this one. So without a care in the world I started to move the frames over – if you are an experienced beekeeper you can see where this might be going.

I decided to check out the frames as I moved them – they were chock full of brood and – uh oh queen cups and a sealed queen cell. No worries I thought as I deftly sliced off the queen cell, I will add on a super and hopefully they won’t swarm – there were so many bees that I didn’t think they had already swarmed.

So that only left the old brood box – this was full of bees too, so I banged it over the hive and then I may have banged it on the floor to dislodge the bees.

brood box.jpg

It was right about then I realised with a sickening thought that I didn’t know where the queen was – I hadn’t seen her. Maybe I had squished her in my mucking around with the boxes. Worse I had just destroyed a sealed queen cell and I couldn’t remember if I had actually seen eggs or just brood.

bees on ground.jpg

Can you spot the queen? I can’t!

So it is quite possible that my meddling has resulted in the accidental death of a queen and her designated successor from a hive that was, to all intents and purposes, flourishing very well without me …. so much for promises to be a better bee keeper.

I added supers onto three hives, then made up more frames for two more. I will add these on to number 1 hive and evil hive tomorrow.

Fingers crossed for hive 5.

N.B. Despite the writing stress I am going to try and post more frequently as lots is happening round here … as usual.


6 responses to “Muppetry in Motion

  1. J > Still very much a learner, and for that matter mostly book-learned, I decided the right thing to do was clip the new queen’s wings. Disaster! Especially as there are no ‘wild’ honey-bee populations in Uist, and no other bee-keepers. And the environmental conditions are extremely difficult – especially for mating. So it wasn’t just the wing-clipping, but that certainly hastened us along to the point where we really had no options left, and gave up, selling all the equipment on to a beekeeper in Harris (4 islands to the north) with more colonies, somewhat more sheltered and kinder conditions, more experience – and more success. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I cannot even see the point of wing-clipping. If you need to clip wings to keep the Queen at home, isn’t something not right?

    • I kind of agree with you with regard to wing clipping – if they want to swarm, then who am I to stand in their way? I can’t imagine keeping bees in such tricky conditions while still learning – I find it hard enough here. I do want to get better though 🙂

  2. Claire you and your bees, I cannot keep up , all I know is the honey is magnificent. Hope it all turns out ok. Xxxx

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