Sunday 26 August 2012

You loose some and you loose some ....

A tale of two halves. On the down side some weeks ago I rescued a swarm from a colony in Leicester that had clustered in an apple tree 10 yards from their hive. However, due to the occupier's lack of vigilance they had been in the rain for two days. I was able to scrape a few survivors from the grass and the bedraggled remains of the swarm were carefully clipped into a box and brought back to Donington for some R & R. I had thought they were doing well. Numbers were beginning to rise, there was some brood, the queen was moving well, pollen and nectar was coming in, all looked good. So I left them for a couple of weeks for holidays and stuff but now I've returned the hive is empty of life: just a couple of workers head first in comb, a sure sign of starvation. I had hoped they would pull through for a happy ending.

On the plus side, Adam and I homed a swarm today, collected from Richard's garden (the fourth swarm in less than a year - his house must be on a lay line). Adam's hive is on the roof of his shed at the bottom of his lovely garden in Woodville. Whilst the colony had not expanded dramatically they had collected sufficient to be storing a surplus at the top of a couple of comb. This was more than enough to demonstrate that if they can get through the winter, with a bit of feeding they will do well next year. The bees were content to be moved and handled, despite my trepidation, as they had been quite noisy in their box on the way to their new home. I'm optimistic for this lot. Adam will be a conscientious custodian and the colony, though small, looked good - but I've thought that before haven't I?


Thursday 23 August 2012

Worried from Elvaston......Update

Called over to Alison's house last night* and there was good and bad news. The good news is that the colony in the TBH are building up fantastically well; just like Mike & Monique's bees a few miles away they are fuelled by access to lots of Himalayan Balsam. The bad news is that the colony Alison was worried about, the swarm I collected from Rollerston-on-Dove, has obviously lost it's queen and has got laying workers. Sadly we decided between us that it is too late in the season to rectify and so they will dwindle away in a few weeks.

As all of this beekeeping lark is a learning experience for all of us I think I need to modify my methods of catching/transferring swarms. The 'shocking them into the box method' for both swarm into transfer box, and then transfer box into TBH, is far too destructive in terms of damaged/lost bees. It massively increases the likelihood of loss or damage to the one individual that the whole operation revolves around - the queen. To try and resolve the number of losses I intend to build several swarm catching boxes that are exact replicas of a 1ft. section of a TBH and try to 'walk' swarms in from underneath (not always possible/practical I know!). This should then lead to less damage/loss of bees and the resulting mini-colony can be more easily dropped straight into a larger full-size TBH. That's the theory anyway, whether it will work so easily in practise only time, and the bees, will tell.


*As did Lucky Dave who thought that it was the 1st Wednesday of the month and wondered why he was at the Shakespeare by himself - Doh!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Weston Bees and Himalayan Balsam


We have seen a lot more white bees going into the hive again this week , in fact the garden looks like it is snowing now just before the rain comes ! Perhaps this is a new weather prediction tool we can adopt , if it looks like snow at the bottom of the garden then it is going to rain.

Although we have always said we wont look regularly we were wondering if we needed to add any more bars . and its fair to say that we do .....
This is what the HB has fuelled I'm guessing and they have been very prolific in a week so more bars added as they had almost made it to the follower board. The bees have also made entrances at the bottom of the hive pushing their way past the plastic grill on the bottom , they can get out but can't get back in that way.

Anyway we hope to see you all in September

Loughborough 'Photo Bomb'

Considering I don't have any bees of my own I seem to be more involved with them than ever. Several weeks ago I had been contact by Steve in Loughborough asking if I'd left for Qatar yet as he had some bees he wanted a hand with.

He had built two bait hives, primed them with pheromone attractant, and left them at the bottom of his garden; one up a tree and the other on the shed roof. Much to his surprise he caught a swarm in each and was not entirely sure what to do with them. The situation was slightly exaggerated by him having to work abroad for several weeks and had no idea what they had been up to.

On his return last week I called over and we decided to take the box down from the tree and see what was inside. Rather than describe the whole process (and hence the time of this blog) I will use some of the many pictures that Steve, and his son Ben, took of the procedure:

Obviously far more bees than both of us had expected; the box was absolutely packed with comb and bees in every stage of their development. Stupidly, and I'll hopefully take it on the chin(s) as a learning experience, I had neglected to accustomise the bees to their new location (about a 100ft. from the tree) and the flying bees promptly flew back to the tree. This meant that over the next few days Steve had to reposition the box in the tree to capture and re-locate the flying bees - sorry!:

After re-positioning the bait box under the hive, and restricting their access to and from it by putting grass in the entrance, the flying bees seem to have got the idea that the TBH is their new home:

So now hopefully they will get some good weather over the next few weeks and build up their reserves to a point where they can survive the winter. The intention is to leave the other bait box alone until next year and then transfer them to another TBH. Steve is intending to come along to the next meeting in September so he can give us an update then.


Tuesday 21 August 2012

Worried from Elvaston....

Noticed a distinct lack of activity around my second hive (the climbing frame swarm) over the last few days, very low numbers going in & out, not an encouraging sign.  Was going to go out this evening for a look in, but since we're in the midst of a torrential downpour & thunderstorm, it will have to wait until tomorrow evening.  Thankfully, the other hive still appears to be thriving.  Will update again......

Thursday 16 August 2012

Belper Bees - In Decline

Well, it looks as though despite all Boyd's & Tim's sterling efforts to establish a TBH in Belper, the hive is dying out. There are probably only a couple of hundred left alive in stark contrast to Mike & Monique's Weston colony.

I took these photos today:

No sign of a Queen, no capped cells other than the odd drone.

There were some Queen cells in the combs provide by Tim and some obviously hatched. What became of them, who knows. 

There's always next year, ;-)


Wednesday 15 August 2012

Weston Bees update

Beeless Boyd came around last night and to take a look at what we are doing, give us some pointers (and get his bee fix). We're pleased as it looks as if things are going in the right direction and  the colony is settling into its routine and growing in our TBH.

We started with 2 combs and are now up to 16 bars full and bearding is starting on either end.
We took the opportunity to have a quick look at the end comb, which looks good to us as you can see.
The Bees do have a mad half hour when it is sunny around 3 - 4 pm and there are quite a number flying in front of the hive, but then it calms down. Boyd thinks that this may be orientation flights or similar, but as the bees still come back covered in balsam we don't think that they are planning anything else!

See you all in September


Tuesday 14 August 2012

Elvaston Bees

Hi all

Whilst Boyd moved my new bees into their permanent residence last week, we noticed large numbers in my now well established first colony coming back really quite white with a coating of pollen down their backs.  As ever, Boyd had the answer, they had been feeding well on Himalayan Balsam.  Since the Castle grounds, that are only across a field, are full of it in full bloom, thats not a surprise & good that they've found a plentiful food source, hope my new arrivals do the same.

I have attempted to take a few pictures, but unfortunately my camera not up to the job of very good close ups so not that clear to see.

Hope to see you all at the next meet.


Monday 13 August 2012

Bee-Friendly Zone Map

Saw this on Natural Beekeeping Network and thought it might be of interest.

Put your Bee-Friendly Zone on the map!

Wherever you are in the world, YOU can add your BFZ to this interactive world map. Show your support for Bee-Friendly gardening, growing and farming and show the pesticide pushers that we care more for bees than we do for their profits!



Saturday 11 August 2012

Bee Lovely Petition

Came across this link via Natural Beekeeping Network and thought that DaDBeeP 'members' might want to support a Petition againt the use of Neonicotinoid pesticides.


New lodgers

The failing colony that we started as a split has finally died off. Didn't take long for the new occupants to move in.

 On a more positive note the other two colonies (from natural swarms) are really active. Although I cant get a look inside the small hive in my garden as the combs (9) are stuck solid. I'm thinking about doing a cut out before they swarm next year and transfering them into a bigger more traditional shaped TBH. Any thoughts welcome though :-)

Sunday 5 August 2012

Weston Bee update

Hi all
We've just come back from our holls the bees have filled up the 2 slots we left them each end , we checked the bees again on  Friday and they were fine , they did have a mad half hour this afternoon ( then the thunderstorm came ) . We've noticed tonight that some have been coming back with a white stripe on their backs !
We have googled this and most sites say it is Himalayan Balsam that the bees have been feasting on , catching one bee to photo was a bit of a struggle (for me not the bee).
Anyone any other ideas?

Mike and Monique

Thursday 2 August 2012

Meeting 01.08.2012

Good to see a few of you last night; only five of us but I'm sure the holiday season has something to do with that. In amongst the general chat there was plenty of chat about bees, with most people having growing success. Sadly Pete Tong's colony, even after the intervention of adding extra bees from Tim, looks to be failing. Not entirely sure what is happening as there were three or four capped queen cells on the combs we transferred but bee numbers still seem to be dwindling. I know that there can be a three week lag in between the queen emerging and new brood appearing so I'm hoping that they might suddenly take off. Only time will tell!

Over the next week I will be helping Alison, now that she has some protective gear, to transfer the swarm I caught last month into her permanent hive. Also I've been in touch with a guy from Loughborough who needs help transferring bees from his bait hive into a TBH. So even without my own bees anymore I'm still keeping my hand in.

That's all for the moment.