Called over to Alison's house last night* and there was good and bad news. The good news is that the colony in the TBH are building up fantastically well; just like Mike & Monique's bees a few miles away they are fuelled by access to lots of Himalayan Balsam. The bad news is that the colony Alison was worried about, the swarm I collected from Rollerston-on-Dove, has obviously lost it's queen and has got laying workers. Sadly we decided between us that it is too late in the season to rectify and so they will dwindle away in a few weeks.
As all of this beekeeping lark is a learning experience for all of us I think I need to modify my methods of catching/transferring swarms. The 'shocking them into the box method' for both swarm into transfer box, and then transfer box into TBH, is far too destructive in terms of damaged/lost bees. It massively increases the likelihood of loss or damage to the one individual that the whole operation revolves around - the queen. To try and resolve the number of losses I intend to build several swarm catching boxes that are exact replicas of a 1ft. section of a TBH and try to 'walk' swarms in from underneath (not always possible/practical I know!). This should then lead to less damage/loss of bees and the resulting mini-colony can be more easily dropped straight into a larger full-size TBH. That's the theory anyway, whether it will work so easily in practise only time, and the bees, will tell.
*As did Lucky Dave who thought that it was the 1st Wednesday of the month and wondered why he was at the Shakespeare by himself - Doh!
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