Copper Bee Apiary

A garden apiary in Whittlesford, Cambridge, UK - honey bees and their beekeeper Hilary van der Hoff.

Long Live Queen Uma

The swarm of bees that I discovered cold and starving in a hedge a few weeks ago are now a happy colony with a laying queen, Queen Uma.

“Happy” - phew! When I was hiving the swarm, they were defensive, pinging off my veil. I was lucky to avoid being stung. So I was relieved to find them quiet and peacefully industrious when I took my first look in their hive yesterday. Their earlier bad temper must have been caused by the adverse circumstances. I can well imagine that I too would be at the end of my tether after spending several days in a hawthorn hedge with my family, enduring unseasonal cold, rain and hail, without food.

How do I know they were there for days? I’m guessing, but they had been there long enough to get cold. They had also left wax secretions on the branch where they were clustered. The white residue that looks here like a plant pathologist’s specimen is wax exuded by waxworker bees in the swarm as they clung to the branch.

When I first removed the crownboard to look at them yesterday my heart sank a little - I had forgotten quite how small this colony were. But the central frames were encouragingly heavy to lift, and I was rewarded by the sight of healthy capped and uncapped brood. I will leave them to continue making themselves at home in advance of our next NBU inspection in a few weeks’ time.

Queen Uma’s hive by daylight

Queen Uma’s hive by thermal camera at night

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