With the successful installation of the Jubilee Hive, standard weekly hive inspections are essential to getting to know our bees as the weeks pass by. Experts have informed our beekeepers, Mrs Sarah Oscroft, Mrs Madeline Greene Lally, Mr Jakke Tyrrell and Sr Elizabeth McCormack, that no inspection is a normal inspection and they should expect anything. In the first week of inspecting the bees, a key task was to find and mark the Queen. This makes her easier to spot in future. To mark a Queen you must capture her in a special container and use a bee friendly marker pen on her thorax (the bit between the head and abdomen). This year bees are being marked with a yellow pen, each year there is a different colour (white, yellow, red, green and blue). This means if you capture a swarm with a marked Queen you will know how old she is. We are feeling very proud that the Queen was marked and put back into the hive.
The following week the hive was opened again. The feed container was carefully removed which was empty of the syrup that was fed to the bees when they first arrived. This was put to one side not realising that our Queen was on it. Looking inside everything was as expected; honey stores, nectar, sealed brood cells, larvae and many bees. Our beekeepers spotted what they thought was our Queen only to realise they had carefully marked a drone. Drones are male bees and these are larger than the female workers; it is an easy mistake for beginners to make. Mrs Oscroft was quite surprised not to find the Queen when the inspection was finished. She noticed there were still a few bees hanging around the feed container and on closer inspection, then spotted the unmarked Queen. After capturing her in the special trap they slowly moved the foam into place so that she was kept still and were able to mark her. The hive was reopened and our Queen was put safely back inside.
The next inspection went very smoothly, we are pleased that the bees have been working hard to draw out all of the wax to make cells big enough to lay eggs. Lots of the tiny eggs have been spotted, in many of the prepared cells. The bees still have plenty of space as they work hard to fill up the frames but next time there may be the need to add another box on top of the brood box so that the colony can continue to grow. The bees’ water was topped up in a tin filled with pebbles; this is so they can crawl down to drink and will not drown. It has been really lovely to see so many honeybees on the glorious lavender that surrounds the Millennium Lawn, some of these bees must surely come from our hive.