Claude’s Corner – May 2022

I agreed to write a monthly column for the OCBA newsletter on a subject of my own choosing relating to beekeeping.  It is my goal to use this space to relate and experience or technique that will be helpful and informative towards our collective purpose of good honey bee stewardship and responsible management.  

Let’s get started.

Everyone should have at least one catalog from a beekeeping supply company (they are free for the asking).  I have (but there are many others) the following:

  1. Betterbee, (800) 632-3379
  2. Dadant, (888-932-3268 Frankfort, KY branch)
  3. MannLake, (800-233-2899, Clarkson, KY branch)

 On April 16, OCBA held another outstanding field day at Don Chesak’s apiary.  A hearty thank you to Don and all the officers and others that participated in the planning and execution of this event.  The main topic and demonstrations centered around making splits.  There are a number of methods of splitting a hive, but all of them in one way or the other involve finding the queen.  I have very poor eyesight further hampered by difficulty seeing the colors red and green, and I rarely can find the queen.  So I must rely on using a tool, dare I utter the words “queen excluder” (QX)?  Much has been cussed and discussed about QX, sometimes referred to as a honey excluder.  Whether you do or don’t use a QX to keep the queen out of your honey supers is a management decision up to the individual beekeeper (you).  But it is worth having several QXs handy for use as a tool.  On Friday, April 15, I worked one of my bee yards containing 10 hives, and I used three QXs for three different reasons.  

  1. A double deep with brood in both boxes.  I do not want to split this hive, so I put a QX between the two boxes to clear out the brood from the top box.  I did happen to see the queen in the bottom box, so I knew where she was.  I will use the bees in the top box for a different purpose later. 
  2. I found another hive with one deep brood box that was weak, less than four frames of bees and brood.  I put that hive on top of a strong hive (two boxes full of bees) with a sheet of newspaper and a QX and will wait about two weeks and by then bees from the strong hive will have migrated up to the weak hive, and I can then move the now stronger hive back to its original location (the nurse bees will stay). (I got this idea from Ian Steppler, Canadian beekeeper.)  
  3. I left a honey super over winter on a double deep hive (shame on me).   It now had honey (more than 5 frames) and brood.  I did not, nor do I ever want, brood in my honey supers, and to get the brood out, I used a QX under the honey super.  First, however, I looked for the queen and did not see her, but to make sure she wasn’t in the super, I shook all the bees into the hive body below.  

Now I am ready for the honey flow.