Tag Archives: managing nucs

Summer doldrums

Synopsis : Weather, nucs, queens, swarms and wax. A potpourri of topics that have entertained me while waiting for the heather flow to start … if it starts. 


Maybe it’s old age 1 but the calendar seems to be speeding up these days. The dawn chorus is just a chirrup or two, there are mushrooms appearing everywhere, and I can sense the end of the season galloping towards me.

Or, maybe this is just a bit of a weird season.

It barely seems to have got started before it feels like it’s about to end.

The peak swarming period in my part(s) of Scotland has long gone 2 and the ‘June gap’ didn’t really happen, perhaps because the summer flowers started early. It’s now late July and the lime and blackberry are over. There’s some rosebay willow herb left, though not much and the heather has yet to properly start.

Erratic, just flowering heather

These are the summer doldrums; the time between the end of swarming and taking the summer honey off. It’s a relatively quiet time for my beekeeping. It’s too late (in Scotland, at least in my experience) for dependable queen rearing and it’s too early for any serious winter preparations.

There’s no longer a need to conduct weekly colony inspections. I’m reasonably confident that my colonies won’t swarm now, though I expect a few might supersede 3.

That doesn’t mean they won’t swarm … it just means my confidence might be misplaced 😉 .

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there’s no beekeeping to do … it’s just that I’ve got a little more time to complete what I need to do, and a bit of spare time to do a few other related activities.

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The calm after the storm

Synopsis : What can you do with the spare nucs and queens left after successful swarm control? After a ‘month of mayhem’, calm descends on the apiary and there are queens to mark, colonies to unite and – thankfully – a bit more time for everything.


The first half of the beekeeping season – yes, for me at least, more than half of it has gone already – started very slowly. The long, cold early Spring seemed to delay colonies from making swarm preparations, though they certainly built up strongly by foraging hard when conditions were suitable and there was a lot of pollen in the boxes.

And, because colonies were strong and running out of space, when things finally warmed up everything went a bit mad.

Fortunately, my apiary visit at the beginning of this week suggests that the ‘month of mayhem’ is over and it should now all be plain sailing until the end of the season.

No longer do I feel as though I’m playing ‘catch up’ all the time, juggling a dozen metaphorical plates to get a good honey crop and not lose swarms, desperately searching for spare equipment, or cursing my lack of frames, or dummy boards or – most recently – those little plastic ‘candy’ caps for JzBz queen introduction cages 1.

Calm after the storm

And, appropriately, these apiary visits were periodically interrupted by some spectacular cloudbursts … but, as I drove home in the calm afterwards it was clear both I and the bees had weathered the storm and things were looking good for the summer honey and the remainder of the season.

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