Saturday 27 October 2012

All packed.....

....and ready to go. After a few hectic weeks it is now the evening before I fly to Qatar. I've double checked my tickets, passport etc. and now need to have an early night before driving to Birmingham at 02:30 tomorrow morning. Having just spoken to Cath I know the weather there will be slightly warmer than the frosty start I had this morning, with the daytime temperatures somewhere in the high thirties!

In between trying to sort a job out and going glamping (glamorous camping) I intend to try and visit the only commercial apiary in Qatar. Not sure how easy that will be, especially as this week is the Muslim festival of Eid. I know where some of the hives are kept - in the ground of Qatar University - so it is worth a try.

Will hopefully be able to find out if natural beekeeping is viable and, more pertinently, allowable. I have no idea if  'non-Qatari, Joe public types' are even allowed to keep bees but I'm sure going to give it a go and find out. Hardcore subversive beekeeping here I come!


Monday 15 October 2012

Forward Planning !?

For anyone who knows me well a 'planner' would not be first on the list of descriptive terms; 'tall' possibly but 'organised', 'forward thinking' and 'planner' probably not. But looking back over the year I feel that we could begin to think about next year a little earlier, especially in areas like Outreach, Hive building and Colony provision.

Now I'm a huge fan of TED (check out if you are unfamiliar) and I've just been hearing about Incredible Edible Todmorden and wondering how I might contribute to something similar. A quick glimpse of their website and the picture of a couple of beekeepers made me realise that I already perform an important community service and its down to others to take advantage of the pollinators I house if they wish to.

However, it got me thinking about how to spread this idea of volunteer community action on food production. Now I'm no marketeer so please add your ideas as comments below. There are the usual things like posters in windows, etc but also getting links to Dadbeep and on our local community websites. Maybe Facebook users (I'm not one) may be able to provide links and likes to community pages and walls. Are there local commercial businesses linked to the Eco theme that might be able to provide some notice board space or some other link to the bee friendly initiative, and then link to us or Just some ideas to get us started. How about linking up with the local gardening and horticultural types and groups, maybe giving small presentations to WI clubs.

But then what could we then do to support this growing interest. Well, how about a hive building day. With a bit of negotiation I'm sure that one of us could be persuaded to host a session. With a little notice enough wood and pre-building could be done to make sure that each pre-registered participant could go home with a 4 foot Chandler for £50 - £60. Slap on a Barbie and who could ask for more.

But the usual problem is bees. We have been reliant on swarm collection and its only the efforts of a few who's work permits the mobility to go and collect when they can. Planning for splits needs to happen early, especially the manufacture of suitable mini-nuc boxes. We also need to understand how splitting works and how to motivate our surviving colonies to split so that we can provide bees to our new enthusiasts. I am definitely no expert at this and I for one will need to get a lot of research done before I feel confident in giving it a go for real.

So with all this in mind I'm thinking that next year will be starting early if we want to build on what we've begun. Is it just me wittering on? Comments and ideas please. Lots and lots of comments ......


Tuesday 9 October 2012

Various bits & bobs!

Have just been catching up on the Blog after abit of an absence due to a) trip to Scotland b) stinking cold & rather than adding several comments in various places, thought it would be easier to add a post - as with the M&Ms of Weston my bees are still showing signs of the Himalayan stripe, few & far between now compared to a month ago & having walked round the Castle today it looks like most has gone to seed, just a few left still flowering so think this really must be about the last week they'll find any.

I also had a look inside my hive at the weekend for first time in weeks & there are no new combs to when Boyd & I last looked, which is 8 bars.  Which leads me on to my next comment, yes please to some insulation Boyd if its on offer since my hive is less than half full, will need to start thinking about insulation & 3rd point, will put feeder in at the same time, since Balsam definitely coming to an end.

Do leaf cutter Bees like geraniums (Pelagoniums - not the perennials) since my summer pots are still out & leaves are full of holes...somehow would rather it was bees than slugs!

Yes please count me in for the Christmas curry on the 5th Dec but should see everyone Nov meet (7th?) anyway, unless prospect of a quiz (highlighting gross ignorance) puts me off in the meantime?!?!

Monday 8 October 2012

Insulation Material (Free)

I've managed to salvage quite a few sheets of 25-30mm thick polystyrene packing material. It is easily cut to TBH follower board size and will act as excellent insulation in the empty ends of a hive. I have some already cut, and by taping together the cut-off bits it is possible to get two out of most sheets - or maybe three if you are using the Weston mini TBH design! It can also be laid on top of the bars as insulation under the roof. If you are interested I will ferry some of it home and we can discuss how/when to get it to you. The nights are getting ever colder so I suspect it will be needed sooner rather than later.


QI - hopefully

Sorry for another long winded way around things but hopefully it will reach some sort of Quite Interesting conclusion:-

I recently posted comments on relating to the youtube movie that was embedded in the link below.

I noticed that the bee foraging through the centre of a Sunflower was collecting pollen by sticking it to its underside rather than in 'bundles' on its back legs. Not having seen this before I thought it might have been some local adaptation and might be worthy of some further investigation. Left it at that and didn't think any more of it.

Fast forward to yesterday, Sunday, and whilst talking to Monique at Attenborough Nature Reserve she suggested that we could maybe do something extra during the DaDBeeP monthly meeting like a guest speaker or a quiz. So that evening I started gathering (ie. stealing) information from other web sites suitable for a quiz in November utilising a nifty bit of software/hardware that I can borrow from work called TurningPoint - bet you can't wait? Anyway, after trawling through lots of difficult (ie. boring) BBKA quizzes, I came across a few that had suitable questions and one of them was:

Which type of bee collects pollen by sticking it to its underside?

The answer: a Leaf Cutter Bee (see info. below). So if you find, as we have, your roses or other shrubs with neat little circular scalloped edges you probably have Leaf Cutter Bees in the vicinity.

From Wikipedia
The Megachilidae are a cosmopolitan family of (mostly) solitary bees whose pollen-carrying structure (called a scopa) is restricted to the ventral surface of the abdomen (rather than mostly or exclusively on the hind legs as in other bee families). They are most commonly known as mason bees and leafcutter bees, reflecting the materials they build their nest cells from (soil or leaves, respectively).


Sunday 7 October 2012

Flight Path Issues !

Not of all you may know that Weston is close to the airport flight path . However my neighbours have been googling recently as we have started to get a lot of yellow deposits on their cars ( they suspected that it may be from the airport) - these seem to follow the bees flight path .

Does anyone else have a similar thing, also is it a problem,  as the hive is OK with very little in the way of yellow spots? The roof of the house has them as well .

This was taken this morning just as the fog cleared and flight control cleared them all for takeoff on another HB mission.

Any thoughts or ideas please let us know or we'll be car cleaning for a while


Wednesday 3 October 2012

Double Header

A quick report on two bee meetings I've been to this week:

Firstly, on Tuesday 2nd October at the invite of Marise Taylor who had attended our first meeting, I went along to the Leicestershire & Rutland Beekeeping Association meeting. The guest speaker was Clive DeBruyn who gave a very entertaining talk on commercial beekeeping and possible cross-overs between professional and amateur beekeeping. He seemed to have a fairly broadminded attitude to all types of hive and beekeeping in general; he even as part of a discussion about Queen rearing talked about top bar hives. I felt a bit like a Celtic support in a Rangers pub and didn't make it well know that I was of a 'different persuasion' but I'm sure it wouldn't have caused that much of an outcry. If I go again maybe I'll be brave enough to stand-up and say "Hi! My names Boyd and I keep bees in a top bar hive!".

Secondly, being the first Wednesday of October, tonight was the monthly DaDBeeP meeting. After a few apologies I was expecting not many to turn up and certainly not the thirty odd that attended the Leicester meeting. I was pleasantly surprised that eight hardy soles made it out into the blustery evening and we had a good chin-wag; sometimes even talking about bees. There again seemed to be a lot of discussion about winter feeding and what to be looking for in terms of colony expansion/contraction. As a good number of our colonies are first year swarms, collected late, during a poor summer it was thought generally to be a good thing to feed. Obviously this will depend upon the individuals perception of what natural beekeeping is and their local conditions; Mike and Monique's hive in Weston-on-Trent seems to have unlimited access to Himalayan balsam and correspondingly has grown very rapidly to fill twenty bars (it will be interesting to compare with Alison B's hive that is in a similar location). Whatever you decide to do sadly there will be some loses and all we can try to do is do the best we can for our charges.

There was a discussion as to whether monthly meeting during the Winter were valuable and the consensus seemed to be yes. So for the time being will continue to meet the first Wednesday of the month.

There was also proposal, again widely accepted, that we should have a Christmas meal on Wednesday 5th December at the Tandoori Nights restaurant opposite the Shakespeare pub. I will contact the restaurant and make a provisional reservation; I'll confirm numbers nearer the time.