Well, the frazzle was worth it. All the hives are queenright, although a couple of my breeding nucs have failed to deliver a new Queen.
2014’s Queen marking colour is Green. So the three new green-themed Queens in the Bermondsey Street Apiary are Queen Jade of Square Hive, Queen Grunhilde of Thames Hive and Queen Esmeralda of Shard Hive.
With the precocious appearance of our Lime tree nectar flow now over, these new Queens’ offspring will be joining the flying force of foragers a little late in the season – but are coming into play as tactical substitutions for the starting forager line-up, which has have worked its socks off to bring that Lime harvest home.
My main concern is to ensure that the “early” 2014 forage does not run out and leave the bees with an empty larder, as discussed with John Chapple last month.
There’s nothing for me to do about the honey crop now. The bees are where they need to be, healthy and prolific, and it’s up to the weather from now to the end of July to dictate the Bermondsey Street Bees’ honey harvest.
My job is to look to the future. The end of the bee-year is September and I am now preparing the way for a successful overwintering of four full hives on the roof. My highest priority is to look out for supercedure cells in Abbey Hive (where the stately Queen Amber currently presides), as this veteran monarch completes her third year.
I value her calm, non-swarmy genes and look forward to their orderly replacement by the bees by supercedure – anticipating that her heir presumptive will share her excellent characteristics – I am anticipating that could happen around August, but it could be sooner, if the spermathecas of this grand dame runs dry before then. At that stage, their queenly pheromones will fade and the bees will soon know that the time has come to arrange for a replacement. And I plan to have a spare 2014 Queen in reserve in a breeding nuc, just in case.
So it’s time for health checks: varroa, in particular. And preparation for a winter break for the hard-working Bermondsey Bees.
The Caribbean, do you think, or Ibiza ?