07917 677667 beesatbobs@btinternet.com RJ beekeeping, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

I have made sure that all my queen are marked today ready for swarm control. This entailed finding and marking or re-marking 17 queens, the rest were okay and still clearly marked. I have one standard brood (for my observation hive) and needed to mark this queen: I searched the frames 3 times without success! I didn’t have a spare standard box to separate the colony to make the job easier, so instead I took all the frames of food out, shaking the bees off and made 4 “pairs” of frames – hoping the queen would seek to go in between a pair of frames, in the dark. Despite this I still could not find her and so decided to put everything back to look next week. As I put the crown board back on with fondant block there she was ( I could sense her laughing with her entourage at this stupid bee keeper) on the fondant. Now I had to mark her – I don’t like picking queens up (and always use a queen cage) so tried to get her to walk onto my fingers, no chance! She scurried around and around almost saying “you can’t catch me!” Then all of a sudden she walked straight up my index finger into the palm of my hand and stopped. I needed to get her onto a frame to press the queen cage into the wax but would she move- it seemed like for ever but eventually she “sauntered” down onto the frame and at last I marked her. In another colony which I opened for the first time this year, the frames were a struggle to lift out and each had a huge lump of propolis set at the entrance end (frames set cold way) – obviously the bees had done their work to keep out the cold of last winter! Just as well I checked them though as this queen has already laid up 8 frames of brood (14 x12).
Drones were starting to hatch as well, so we know what could happen soon.