Andrew checks each frame as he moves them from one box to another. In this case he is looking for the queen bee who is distinctive for...

The hive

By | Monday, December 06, 2010 Leave a Comment
Andrew checks each frame as he moves
them from one box to another.
In this case he is looking for the
queen bee who is distinctive
for her long body and bright colour.
Apologies to the more knowledgeable for this rather simplistic explanation.

The physical hive is made up a a number of basic components: large or small you need a floor, a lid, a cover and at least one box with a number of frames inside it. Each frame is made up of a wood surround with wire across on which is supported a wax base. The bees will eventually build a comb on the wax in each frame and fill each hexagonal cell with honey.

The frames in this super box are distended
 with cells full of honey. The cells are
capped with wax (hence the whitish colour)
to stop the honey from flowing out.
This indicates that the honey is fully
processed and ready for extraction.
This capping will be removed or
broken up before each frame is spun
to extract the honey. 
As the hive matures and grows bigger, more boxes, each filled with, in our case, ten frames, is added to the hive structure. At this point a wire mesh is added to separate the queen bee who is significantly larger than the other bees in the hive. The mesh is referred to as a 'queen excluder' and the position of a box above or below the excluder defines whether it is a 'brood' or 'super' box.

A brood box is one to which the queen has access to lay eggs and is therefore useful for growing the hive but not for extraction of honey. Brood boxes are kept at the bottom of the hive. Super boxes are above the excluder (hence the name) and are basically honey boxes which, once filled, can be spun for honey extraction. It's part of the beekeeper's responsibility to balance the growth of a hive for productivity with the amount of extractable honey. Restrict brood space and growth will be limited and the hive will struggle to fill the honey boxes, however having too many bees and not enough space for honey storage means the bees will struggle to maintain the correct temperature within the hive (and bees are temperature sensitive).

Amazingly, a mature, productive hive can have between 30,000 to 60,000 bees so having the right amount of space is important for a healthy hive.

The video on this entry shows Andrew and Derek as they add a new queen to one of the mature Croziers Road hives. Apologies for the children making ringing noises in the background! 

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