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2017. A trip around the apiary - part 2.

To save flicking between webpages, here's that shot across the apiary again:

apiary view

The next hive to the right - with a red feeder shell - is this year's principle breeder queen from Slovenia (the former principle breeder having adopted the role of drone producer for this year). The box has an anti-robbing screen in place only as a 'belt and braces' measure, in view of the value of that queen's genetics.

Then finally, on the far right is a Long Hive which has been acting as a holding hive for a colony to be placed within this five-queen hive:

five hive 1

five hive 1

All entrances except one have been sealed until such time as the rain stops, when I can begin working with this colony.

I won't be discussing the running of multi-queen colonies in any detail, as it's still a technique which is being developed, and will probably become the subject of a future magazine article. But - to whet your appetite regarding this exciting new development, here are a couple of photographs showing the results of a more modestly-sized three-queen hive:


As you can see this shows a small amount of bearding at the front of the hive during a cool, overcast day here on England's east coast. The small colony made from a split and housed in the nuc-box next door has an anti-robbing screen in place. The significance of this comment may become clear shortly.

This is a rear view shot, showing more bearding at both of the upper colony entrances - despite the hive having a full-sized Open Mesh Floor and three sets of entrances providing a substantial through-draught.


I wasn't overly concerned about this until the evening when, the foragers having returned, the following was observed in the early evening (hence the flash photograph):


Clearly conditions inside that box were starting to get a little uncomfortable, and so the five-frame nuc boxes were lifted off the following morning, only to discover that the colonies inside them were far too large to remain in those boxes, as five-frames were unable to provide any room for expansion, and so the colonies were transferred into 10-frame boxes instead.

Two observations are relevant here:
firstly, two very powerful nucleus colonies were produced above a Queenright 'mother' hive, without any colony splitting having taken place - which of course is precisely why they were to become so powerful, and so quickly.
Secondly, no anti-robbing precautions whatsoever were taken, or indeed were needed - which was precisely my rationale for initially conducting this experiment.

Other experiments have since been conducted on three and four queen horizontal hives, which is proving to be a far superior format for this purpose than vertical stacks. This is one of the first three-queen horizontal hives tested:

3Q Horiz

Over this coming winter period I'll be making some seven- and nine-queen hives (nine currently presents as being the upper limit due to logistical limitations imposed by entrance separation requirements) and should these prove as successful as those already in service, then I'll be 'going public' about the details of this technique - probably sometime towards the end of 2018.

That's all for now, I'll be adding a few updates to existing webpages and hopefully creating a few new ones, as and when I can find the time. At the moment, surrounding the apiary are a couple of hundred Leylandii which badly need to be reduced in height, so that must be my next job ... that is, if it should ever stop raining.


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