I'm annoyed with myself. I had a look at the bees yesterday, and the small swarm (hive 1) has died out, apparently of starvation. I meant to get some candy on them to see them through, but I've been feeling so poorly I didn't get it done. It shows how much harm a couple of really bad summers can do; normally, there would be plenty of frames of honey to go round.
I had a close look at some of the bodies, and even after several generations, they still check out with all the characteristics of native bees. That, at least is good. I had expected to find more hybridisation, as with only a few hives, they can easily be influenced by genes from other local drones. either the queens mate selectively, or more likely, they consistently mate with drones from my own hives, without going further afield.
The next thing is to check out the bigger swarm (Hive 3). Superficially, they're rather browner then my own strain, but they do look like natives, or something reasonably close to it. A close look at the morphometry would settle that. It's a nice colony, and it works extremely well in cold weather, so I'm inclined to raise a couple of queens from it if it comes through the winter. But I do want to keep as near to a native strain as I can reasonably manage.
I've put one of the new colonies on the stand where Hive 1 was, and I've made a new stand - it's just a couple of breezeblocks on a paving slab. I need to organise a second one, then I've got all six onto permanent stands, out of the way, and safe from floods and rising damp.
How to Pickle Walnuts - part 2
1 day ago