Tuesday 17 July 2012

Sex, Drugs and Beekeeping.....

.....but mostly beekeeping. Who needs chemical enhancement when you can get such a rush collecting swarms? So after all the packing-up, selling-on and generally winding down my beekeeping activiety I get a phone call this evening asking if I could come and have a look at a "load of bees hanging under my kids swing". Almost burnt the carpet in the rush to get over to Rollerston-on-Dove (nr. Burton) once it was confirmed that it was a swarm and not a bumble bee nest. So having packed all the gear in the car I shot over to Rollerston and was duly presented with a huge swarm hanging from an old child's swing. A good couple of pounds of bees I would imagine.

Huge, Big, Massive!

What an impressive sight! It certainly is the biggest swarm I've seen; being a complete cone shape rather than a flatter, thinner, section. It was very calm and serene with all the bees on the outside lined-up head upwards in preparation for another nights camping out. I decided to position the mini TBH under them and shock them into it - simple. Er, no! I didn't realise that they had been there for at least five days and possibly longer as the householder had been on holiday prior to that. That would explain the four, glistening white, combs that came into view as all the bees sprang off - Merde! Not wanting to have yet another issue with a lost/damaged queen  I decided, for good or bad, that I would break the comb off and drop it in the box. With LOTS of bees in the air, and many thousands inside, I covered the top of the box with most of the bars and left one gap as an entrance. Hopefully when I return tomorrow to pick them up they will all be safely in the box ready for their relocation to Ian and Alison's* garden in Elvaston. To be continued........


* they must think I'm some sort of hymenoptera based stalker (sorry for being a pest!)

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Belper Bees - The Second Wave

Or perhaps that should be, "Sugar coated bees, anyone?"

So the original swarm was failing, there didn't seem to be a queen, a number of capped drone cells and the workers were slowly dying off. We'd had a lengthy discussion at the last meeting as to the best way forward which resulted in Boyd taking a look at the hive (and confirming the decline in numbers and lack of queen) and Tim very very kindly offering to supply another batch.

As there were still some bees from the old colony Boyd decided that the best way forward was to try and integrate the newcomers with the old by coating them in icing sugar. The theory being, if I understood it correctly, was that by doing so the bees own hive smells would be masked by the sugar and with mutual grooming the original bees would be subsumed into the new. We'll see ....

So today Boyd collected the new nuc from Tim and arrived early afternoon to transfer them into the TBH.

First thing then was to coat the old bees in icing sugar. Fine.

Then coat the newcomers with sugar too. Also fine. In fact everything went fine.

And then reassemble with the old combs (a bit like a Haynes manual).

Making sure that there was plenty of sugar on everything.

There were quite a lot of confused bees buzzing around whilst all this was going on but they were surprisingly good natured. Once the lid went back on it didn't take long for them to enter the hive and then start their orientation flights. At the time of writing this they seem to have settled in ok and appear to be foraging (but I don't know if they're the old bees or the new ones!).

We couldn't spot a queen on the new combs but there were at least four capped queen cells so I'll take a peek early next week to see if they've hatched and try and spot a laying queen. Let's hope this second wave will survive!

So, many, many thanks to Tim and Boyd for helping me out, I owe you both a pint or two (at least).


Sunday 8 July 2012

Relocation, relocation, relocation, hernia

Dropped off the first of the hives I've sold this morning. They were bought by a lady in Taddington (nr. Buxton) called Jewels, and as she knew nothing at all about bees I decided it might be a good idea to deliver them and impart a modicum of 'instruction'. Now we all know that TBHs are simple to construct, and relatively easy to use, their down side is they are difficult to transport. This hive (Hive 1) is completely full, save for two or three bars, and must have weighed well in excess of 50kg (just using a luggage scale on each end, with one set of legs still touching the ground, recorded 45kg). It really was a two-man job but didn't want to ask folks for help at an un-Godly hour on Sunday morning so being the brave soldier I heaved and hauled the thing from the bottom of the garden into the waiting hatchback. None of the entire process was easy but I think it didn't do too much harm to the bees save for a few that became trapped in between the the bottom mesh and the trusty duvet cover. The sixty minute, leisurely, drive up the A6 was rather nerve wracking as I wasn't entirely convinced that bees wouldn't suddenly fill the car; as it was not a single one escaped unit I unwrapped them at the new site. The location couldn't be better, a small secluded walled garden about 6m x 3m, soft fruit bushes on three sides and over hanging apple trees. On either side of the house there are two large areas of fallow pasture just bursting with wild flowers - an bee holiday park!

I was sad to see them go as they were my first colony nearly three years ago. They taught me a lot during the initial 'baptism of fire' and have always been a very placid colony to work with; here's hoping that any bees I get in Qatar, or more likely Australia, are half as good. If it does happen I think I'd try a Warre hive next time mainly for ease of movement as Gorilla beekeeping might be the order of the day - wink, wink!


Friday 6 July 2012

Whats going on ?

Hi bee bloggers,  the bees tonight are covering the entrances - does this mean that they would like a door fitting and some central heating?

With it being very wet today is this just safety mode to keep (s)warm ?

So our question is , is this unusual beehaviour or is this following a normal pattern?

We topped the feed up again tonight so hopefully they will be able to top up and  it'll be a bit drier tomorrow .

Mike and Monique ( well Mike really).

Thursday 5 July 2012

Meeting 4 July 2012

Thanks to everyone who made it last night: even the terrible weather hasn't dampend the level of enthusiasm. Given the amount of wet weather most people were reporting positive results, with plenty of hive activety as soon as the rain stops. Only Pete from Belper seemed to be unsure if his swarm has progressed very much over the last three or four weeks - he reported a lack of bees and no real comb building. Hopefully this might not be as bad as it appears but I am calling over this evening so we can check it out; Tim gratefully said he had spare bees if they were needed.

So "thanks again" and hopefully see you all at the next meeting:

Wednesday 1st August (usual venue)


Sunday 1 July 2012

On a Lighter Note - Weston Bees !

Hi all

We've left it 10 days before taking another peek into the hive to see what the bees have bee(n) upto.
With some trepidation despite a bit of training from Dave,  Monique chose  the camera option ( big lens and at a distance (( only kidding)). But this was totally unnecessary as our bees have been (I won't do any more puns after this) very busy .

Mike checked the hive for ants under direction from Monique ( you know she doesnt like ants) - and did you know that this is the most important thing you need to do ( see previous bloggs)  once removing the lid is to squish as many as he could before checking the feeder for drowned ants ( oh and topping it up) , then we (well Mike) removed the followers to have a look.
There are load more bees - where have they come from ? also there are  4 more combs 2 each side and the larger one, 2nd in has some golden stuff in it.

By the way I'm off to Asda to get some more bee keeping gloves tomorrow as I found out later these had a rip in them!

So the Weston Bees are now a colony we guess, and are very excited that this swarm has settled down and moved in and are very active harvesting pollen and nectar.
So what next ? We'll see you all shortly at the July meeting.

All the best
Monique and Mike

FOR SALE - sadly

Some of you may know that my wife and I intend to relocate to Qatar in the near future, before ulitmately joining our son in Australia.. Sadly the bees and the hives I've built for them won't, for obvious reasons, be coming with us and so with more than a tinge of sadness I would like to move them on sooner rather than later. Idealogically I would like to just give them to someone who is interested in their plight, but economically I need to re-coup some of the time and expense I've laid out for them.

So what I have is:
Hive 1   £55  
L 135 x W 55 x H 105 (85*)
Standard Chandler spec.TBH made from recycled wood (20mm thick), 17" bars, open mesh bottom, removeable legs, two follower boards (one with built in feeder), x3 middle & x2 end entrances**. Fully occupied by bees transfered from eight National frames two years ago; very good temperament.

Hive 1
Hive 2   £65
L 120 x W 60 x H 110 (95*)
Standard Chandler spec.TBH made from bought, overlapped, gravel boards (45mm thick), sturdy and very heavy, 17" bars, deep sided allowing 'hang-out' space below combs, sawdust in sump with detachable bottom, x1 end entrance**, two follower boards, removeable legs. Exterior painted, interior untreated. Bees are from a recent cut-out, occupying eight bars tied on with string and wire supports. Have inspected for progress but have not yet removed any bars. Bees very active and contented.

Hive 2
Hive 3   £35
L 120 x W 70 x H 110 (85*) 
Standard Chandler spec.TBH made from recycled decking (25mm thick), sturdy and heavy, 17" bars, deep sided allowing 'hang-out' space below combs, detachable bottom, x1 end entrance**, two follower boards, removeable legs. Exterior treated with linseed oil, interior untreated. Hive only NO bees!
Hive 3
I am open to offers and if you live fairly locally I can help with transportation; they should all hopefully fit inside my trusty duvet cover.

* height of the top bar 'deck' 
** all entances on sides not on ends betwen legs

If anyone is interested we can discuss at the next meeting or feel free to contact me.