Supercedure and too many supers

For the first time I have 2 queens running side by side in one of my hives. I was looking through my hive the other day and saw the queen and was quite happy that she was doing well, this year’s blue queen, born about the end of May. Then I turned over the frame and randomly spotted another queen, in lay, by the size of her, and unmarked. Now I have enough fun finding queens at the best of times, so I have no idea how I spotted her and I don’t know what they are playing at superseding so soon, especially as the first is laying quite nicely. Well I am sure they know what they are about…

In other news, I have found k-wing in 2 hives and as such have started treating for varroa, as it happens I also found a bit of deformed wing on the other 2 hives on that site. I have swapped to apiguard this year from my usual api life var, just cos I had it to be honest. A few weeks ago I went round and cleared off what I had assumed would be the last of this year’s honey; the borage was cut and everything was slowing. Or so I thought. I went round and took off another 4 supers in total. Due to a backlog I now have 17 waiting for me to extract – I had to climb a step ladder to get the top ones on the stack – sigh… I appreciate for many this may be a welcome problem, too much honey, but it takes a long time to decapitate (sic) & spin. And its a sticky job. And then you have to put the supers on a hive to pull the remains of the honey out (As such I have left a couple of hives without treatment for now). And filter the honey into buckets. And this is all before jarring, labeling, selling, etc.

Oh and for those who think “oh that’s a good amount of honey”, it all comes at a price. I’m looking down a £350 sales shopping list at Thorne’s sale this weekend and at some point I want to get a motor on this extractor so another £350. And earlier in the year I paid about £300 for jars, and £70+ for turpentine and linseed oil – it never stops just keeps going around… Vicky ( the other half) is going to start a spreadsheet, as I think I spend more than I get back. Still its a hobby and my other hobbies I have would cost far more if I was doing them instead (yacht sailing is very far from inexpensive and the bees have kept me off that for 2-3 years now).

Beexwax polish

Last year I made some beeswax polish. After a while I managed to sell it. People really liked it and asked for more. So this year, from my cappings wax haul, I decided I would make some more.

Beeswax Recipe 1.

Equal parts beeswax and turpentine


  1. Liquefy the wax by heating – do this in a ban marie so it doesn’t overheat and keep away from naked flames.
  2. Pour the turpentine in – this is flammable too, so be careful. also keep the area well ventilated, the fumes are not good for you.
  3. Some of the beeswax with solidify, keep warming until its all liquid.
  4. Pour into tins, allow to cool & solidify, use as you wish

pro’s and cons

  • This is simple to do
  • The product is a hard wax, it requires hard work to apply it, but it gives a very good ‘hard’ finish on wood
  • Turpentine gives good penetration into the wood for a long lasting effect
  • Turpentine is expensive
  • Turpentine is hard to find in the shops, usually replaced by turpentine substitute which wont do the job here.
  • Turpentine is not nice stuff *

* Wikipedia says
“As an organic solvent, its vapour can irritate the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and respiratory system, as well as the central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested, among other things. Being combustible, it also poses a fire hazard. Due to the fact that turpentine can cause spasms of the airways particularly in people with asthma and whooping cough, it can contribute to a worsening of breathing issues in persons with these diseases if inhaled.”

Beeswax Recipe 2.

As above but also add a 3rd equal part of raw linseed oil, added after the turpentine.

Pro’s and cons

  • Makes for a softer compound and is easier to work.
  • Apparently works very well treating leather to make it waterproof.
  • Cheaper overall as less expensive than turpentine.
  • Still contains pretty nasty turpentine

Last year I made some of recipe 1 and some of recipe 2. Recipe 2 sold better, being easier to work and I think looking more brown. This year I’ve made more of that recipe, and used up all the turpentine that I bought.

Now I have found an option which doesn’t use turpentine. The question is, will it work as well?

Beeswax Recipe 3.

  • 1 part beeswax
  • 3-4 parts olive oil (some say this is replaceable with coconut oil, jojoba oil, walnut oil, etc.)
  • optional : Essential oils for scent (lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, etc)


  1. put all together,
  2. warm

Pros and cons

  • Less flammable issues
  • Easier access to ingredients
  • Much cheaper ingredients
  • More natural product
  • Less harmful chemical concerns in preparation and in final product usage (e.g. kids toys)
  • Some concerns over oils going rancid, can be extended by fridge storage and/or Anti-oxidant such as clear Grapefruit Seed
  • Extract or Vitamin E oil can be added. However these antioxidant essential oils are very expensive


  • Will this recipe penetrate as well, so will the finish last as long as the turpentine recipes.
  • Concerns over the product going rancid – a) shelf life an issue & b) after application is there still risk of it going rancid in situ?

Busy Busy Busy

Its that time of the year when its harvesting and hard work, and the interest in bees becomes a bit of a burden. Trying to keep up with moving hives and rotating supers to spin the honey off to give the bees enough room so they wont do an unwise late swarm.

Harvest so far this year, as extracted, is just short of 300lbs, but that’s not the end of the story. I have 13 supers taken off and not extracted yet so another 325lb hopefully and about another 9 supers that need to be taken off yet, so another 225lb hopfully. So I might get to 800lb all told. Last year was about 340lb in total so its going in the right direction.

Some hives have done stunningly well, one of which was a nuc this year and has brought in almost as much as the very best which I think is going to round up to about 150lb.

This year, I’ve found that :

  • 4oz jars sell well for people that just want to try something (so more of those to order)
  • jars are hard to find when you’re running out, buy lots when you find them cheap
  • a good stand is not hard to make, but if you leave them on a field alone people will steal them (Grrr…)
  • you never have enough supers ready
  • raising your own queens is a very good idea, apart from ability to improve your stock, it means that you will have spare mated queens if you have an unfortunate / sudden queen loss
  • if you have a mean hive, re-queen and don’t let the drones mate with any queens you want to use.
  • I need to keep better records – once again I didn’t manage to keep up full records throughout.

As I have a couple of queens left over from queen rearing I am going to split a couple of hives at the end of the year and overwinter as nucs.


Hooray ! The queen from my early queen rearing exploits has been mated and is laying. My first (purposeful) queen-reared queen. My first green queen of the year, marked and clipped. She has a big golden abdomen,  far larger than last week when she was still a virgin.

Quick sideline – queens are marked in relation to their year. I mark mine the year they were born, others mark them for their first full year, i.e. the year after they are born. As long as you are consistent in which you chose its not a problem.

Year ending :

1 or 6 – White
2 or 7 – Yellow
3 or 8 – Red
4 or 9 – Green
5 or 0 – Blue

As it is 2014, my queen is marked green.

You can remember the order by the memnomic “When You Read Good Books”.

Actually talking about marking if you buy a ‘queen marking pen’ from a bee equipment vendor, you will pay between £4.50 and £6 for one pen. If you search for exactly the same pen by its brand name (on ebay, Amazon, Google etc) then you can get one for £2.10 to £2.50. Better still you get more choice of what colour, for example I have a lovely light green which shows up in the hive far better than the standard dark green and similarly with the blue. So search for “Posca 5” and save, getting about 50% off. No, I am not on commission,  I am just annoyed at people bumping up the prices on beekeepers for things.

Anyway,  I have a new queen and a super calm hive so I’m happy. More good news is the colony she came from had to be artificial swarmed today so I am going to have a few more of these lovely ladies by harvesting the emergency cells and bringing them on in mini mating hives.

Yalding Bee Fayre

I am going to this next weekend (May 11th 2013), taking one of my little boys to enjoy the attractions and then seeing what I can get at the auction.

It was good just as an auction when I went a couple of years ago, now its bigger and seems to be attracting a lot more attention.

Its not far on the other side of the Dartford crossing if I recall correctly.