Photos from the Apiary meeting on 2nd April 2011 have been added to the gallery. We had a balmy spring afternoon to inspect Joan and Julian’s bees.
We also had the chance to discuss and carry out a Bailey comb exchange, and a shook swarm. These are two methods by which old comb can be removed from colonies, to reduce the pathogen load in a hive, and to improve the quality of broodcomb. In both cases a bucket of heavy syrup was applied to facilitate the drawing of new comb.
In the shook swarm method, the old box and frames were moved to one side, a Queen excluder inserted below a new brood box containing frames of fresh foundation. All the bees were shaken into the new box – despite our best efforts, the queen was not found. With heavy feeding the bees should draw out the new frames. All the current brood is lost, but colonies typically build up quickly from this procedure.
The Bailey comb exchange is less dramatic. A new brood box with frames of fresh foundation is placed over the existing brood box, below the crown board. With feeding the new frames will be drawn out. Julian will need to assess the progress of the colony over the next 3 weeks – by which time all the brood in the lower chamber will have emerged as adult bees. At this point the lower box can be removed, as the colony will typically have shifted its brood rearing efforts into the new, upper box.