Spring clean

I had a detailed peak into the hive this morning.

2 things of note

  1.  It was really really light to lift
  2. there was a layer of “sludge” on the floor of the hive – which I cleared

there were lots of bees – so I think the colony is still pretty healthy.  Couldn’t see any deformed wings etc

does this all sound “normal” ?

also – at what point in the season would you expect to take some honey ?

appreciate the advice as ever.  Jonny

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5 Responses to Spring clean

  1. Lynne says:

    Hi Jonny – Great that your colony has a good number of bees around –

    1. But the hive being really light means that they are short on stores. At this time of year the nectar flow should be underway, but this spring seems to have got off to a slow start – e.g. my apple tree is only just budding its leaves now.. Seems that your bees have worked through all their stores and now may be feeling the pinch – it would be a good idea to feed them for a while.

    2. As to the “sludge” … well, some dry debris can be normal, but the term “sludge” implies something else – do you have photos? Can you describe it further?

    A couple of other questions, were there foragers carrying in pollen? did you see any open and capped brood? What state were they? Did the hive seem calm? Smell right? Was the comb in a good state?

    As for taking honey – well, obviously not now. You would need to be completely sure that your bees had more than enough stores and were still able to collect more nectar for a good while before taking a small amount of that surplus. You would also need to check it is ripe (capped off). But if it is a colony that is struggling, if it is in its first year, if in any doubt as to whether there is a true surplus, do not take – the bees need it more than you do!



  2. jonnywoods says:

    No photos. No smell. Just of busy bees – some capped brood. Maybe just I left the mouse guard on too long into spring ?
    I cleared it out & will see how it develops ove r the next few weeks……
    Cheers. J


    • Lynne says:

      You mention capped brood but not open brood, which is concerning – did you see any uncapped larvae? If no open white curled larvae you likely have a problem – hope it was just an oversight in your comment.


    • Paul says:

      A lot of hives in the UK are starving due to the extended cold spell and lack of forage. I fed mine this week. The fact that your hive was really light to lift is an indicator that you need to feed too – it’s quite worrying actually – at this time of year one would normally use weak syrup, i.e. 1kg sugar dissolved in 1 litre water, with a squirt of lemon juice. You can add other nutrients like the juice from crushed nettles if you want to get fancy.

      I don’t know what kind of feeder you have. If you don’t have one, one option is to simply put the syrup inside the hive in a plastic container like an old margarine tub or tupperware box, but if you do that, add lots of straw or dried grass or similar floating things to act as a raft on the syrup, or lots of bees will drown.

      I’d suggest you take lots of photos next time you do an inspection. They are really useful both as a learning tool, and because if you are asked a question later by others you can say “I did not think to look for that at the time, but let’s look at the photos…” I always take photos when I inspect, and it is extraordinary how often this is useful once you’ve closed up the hive, because you often then think “oh, I never thought to check for X”.


  3. jonnywoods says:

    Will feed them tomorrow
    The was capped and open brood. Photos a good idea


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