Exclusive Advice with Beekeeper Kasper
July is usually the best month for honey production. Bees are at their best. Swarming season is slowly ending. It is still not too late to make some splits and re-queen existing hives.
When the weather is sunny and warm the bees should be bringing in lot of nectar, so keep checking for space and keep adding extra supers for honey! I usually place the empty super underneath the full one.
How To Split Your Colony
It is best to make nucs from the hives which are very strong and about to swarm. Find the old queen in the hive you would like to make the split from first and either place her in a queen cage or put the frame in to a nuc box to keep the queen safe while you create your nuc.
Take 2-3 frames of sealed brood and bees out of the hive and place into the nuc box or new hive. Make sure there is a lot of bees on the frames with brood you are taking for the new hive. Ideally move the split to another apiary which is at least 2-3 miles away. This will stop adult bees coming back to the original hive. If you haven’t got the option to do this, make sure you shake more bees from 3-4 frames in to the split as some of the adult bees will fly back to the hive where the old queen is.
Place the new queen (do not open the queen cage at this point) in the nuc. Pour some feed into the feeder to make sure the new colony won’t starve. Two or three days later go back to the new hive and destroy all the emergency queen cells. Now is the time to open the entrance in the queen cage. Bees will eat their way through the fondant releasing the new queen. Hopefully she will be accepted by the bees in the split. If you have put a mated queen in to your newly created hive you can open and check if the new queen is laying eggs 4-5 days after opening the queen cage. In case you have introduced a virgin queen it is better to wait about 10-14 days after opening the queen cage so the young queen has had time to go for a mating flight and has hopefully started laying eggs. This can take longer if the weather hasn’t allow the virgin queen to go for a mating flight, so be patient.
What you will need to make a nuc/split:
Re-queening Existing Hives
Older queens tend to lay less eggs and their brood can be patchy. There is a greater risk of some diseases and honey production might not be satisfying. Older queens are also more likely to swarm. Many beekeepers may choose to requeen after two years. If you wish to requeen your colony, please watch the above tutorial.
I start with finding the old queen and taking her away from the hive. At the same time, I put a new queen in a queen cage into the hive. Place the cage between the top bars or hang the cage in between two frames on a bit of string and stick. Do not open the cage with the new queen just yet. After 4-5 days go back to the hive and destroy all the emergency queen cells. Now open the end of the cage to allow the bees to eat through the candy and release the queen. Check if the colony has eggs a few days later.
What’s Happening with Bumblebees in Summer?
Now we are in the midst of summer, let’s check in with our other pollinating friend, the bumblebee. In early summer, the bumblebee’s nest will begin to grow larger. The first brood are the worker females, who will now take over the duties of searching for pollen and nectar, caring for the new brood, and defending the nest. The queen will no longer leave the nest, instead she will lay more eggs and care for the brood.
Young worker bees need a lot more food to help them survive and grow, meaning much more nectar and pollen is needed from flowers. To help bumblebees, fill your garden with bee-friendly plants and flowers. These can include; borage, sweet peas, poppies, foxgloves, thyme and snapdragons. Discover our full range of bee-friendly seeds.
Honey Recipes by Gill Meller
Chef and award-winning food writer Gill Meller shares his latest honey recipe! Impress your friends by serving this simple yet flavoursome dish of blue cheese with honey, thyme, dates, fried onions & seeds.
Blue cheese with honey, thyme, dates, fried onions & seeds
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- 150g (5½oz) blue cheese, such as Harbourne Blue or Perl Las
- 6-8 Medjool dates, roughly chopped
- 4 teaspoons runny honey
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the olive oil, then the onion. Cook the onion, turning regularly, until soft and caramelized. Add half the thyme leaves to the onions along with the pumpkin seeds. Toss the onion, pumpkin seeds and thyme together and cook for a further 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
- Crumble the cheese over two plates, dividing it equally between them, then do the same with the chopped dates. Divide the warm onion mixture between the two plates, then drizzle over the honey. Roughly tumble each salad together.
- In a small bowl, make a dressing by combining the remaining olive oil with the cider vinegar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper, then drizzle it over the two salad servings, scatter over the remaining thyme leaves, and serve immediately.
WIN Our Brand New Bee Wall Art – A Beautiful Garden Feature!
We’re very happy to say Mr Bullock, from Tyne & Wear, won our last monthly beekeeping competition!
Our next beekeeping quiz question is here, and this time you have the chance to win our beautiful bee wall art – worth £36.95
All you need to do is answer via our survey, and all correct answers will be entered to a prize draw. The draw closes on Friday 23rd July – Good Luck!
Before you enter, please read the full terms and conditions.