Saturday 7 December 2013

Bee's go bump in the night

Woke the morning after the winds to find one of my hives had blown over. Whoever said top bars are more stable obviously needs to re think (that would be me then). To be fair the one that went was my small hive thats up on the bank and subject to the full blast of the wind. The full size hives survived without problem.

Not the view you want to see out the bedroom window.

So quickly on with the bee suit to see what the damage was.

Luckily the hive had fallen and ended up partially on its bottom with the lid still on some way, which helped to keep the rain out(very lucky it didn't roll down the bank) . After untangling the stand and removing the lid it didn't look to bad.

Very cautious look inside half expecting total carnage

Having picked the hive up and onto a level surface I could then better see what had gone on. All in all it had survived quite well. The end few bars had become dislodged and broken the comb, but all of this was empty.The main sections still had the bars intact and looking in through the window I could see they were still attached at the side, also the bees were still in situ.

Final assessment and close up. As can be seen a fair bit of damaged comb. 

 The only thing left was to re-assemble and put back on the stand. All thats left is to see if they survive, the major worry is they became over chilled but only time will tell. 

So what to do for the future, well this winter I'm building a stronger base for the location and plan to run a Warre style hive as an experiment this will give me the option to strap it all down so hopefully the problem should not arise again.

Have fun at the Christmas meal catch up next year.


Wednesday 4 December 2013

December meeting

Instead of our usual meet the first Wednesday of the month in the Harrington (which would normally be tonight), we are having a pre-Christmas meal next Monday 9th December - meet at 7-7.30pm in the Shakespeare, Shardlow - either eating there or go across the road to the Indian, whatever the consensus. All welcome!

Monday 21 October 2013

Winter preparations

Winter preparations in top bar hives?

Yes its a question that we all need to be thinking about. Firstly do we do any at all. Well this depends on how 'natural' your natural bee keeping is going to be. Does nature do anything for the bee's? The very simple answer is nothing more than the bees do for themselves. So if your being really true to nature you will have taken no honey during the summer and will leave them to last out the winter on their own.

When would you consider assisting them by feeding?

This summer has been a pretty good one for the bee's lots of nice weather so plenty of forage time. What this has also meant is an increase in swarming and most importantly the production of casts (small swarm with virgin queen). Usually these are produced slightly later in the season and don't always have time to build up sufficient winter stores. Also wasps and in my case hornets have been more of an issue this year, and a weak colony can have all its honey taken by persistent wasp attacks(hornets also kill the bee's).

How and when to feed?

 Liquid feeding is probably coming to an end around now, the bees are still collecting from the ivy so its obviously not to late but I wouldn't leave it much longer. If you do liquid feed make it a 2Kg sugar to 1Ltr water mix. Several feeder types are available I now use inverted honey jars on a adapted follower board as the bulk feeds in my mind drown to many bees.

Inverted Jar Feeder bees access bottom of jar lid has several small holes in the lid.
Bulk feeder larger capacity with float (tends to drown bees)

 Later in the year/early next year feeding has to be by fondant (I buy it as I cannot seem to make it) the bee's have no way to evaporate liquid feeds during winter. Fondant is a slight problem since it has to placed over the winter cluster of bees. Tim and myself both came up with the same solution, drill 8-10mm holes in the joints of the bars above the brood area and place the fondant above this in a inverted takeaway container.

Two of my four hives are being fed as we speak, one has been constantly bothered by wasps(sorted it finally by closing down entrance to half a hole). The other looks like it repelled a hornet attack at a cost(decapitated bees in abundance). Both had very little in the way of stores and I don't want to lose them.

The other hives have plenty so I've left them.

So things to do :-

  • Nothing at all if you think they can manage by themselves.
  • Feed them if they look like being short on stores.
  • Close your entrances down to one hole to help maintain heat and avoid drafts.
  • Prepare for fondant feeding now as a winter cluster objects to drills coming thru the roof.
Things not to do
  • Don't go out of your way to keep them warm, no wrapping them in quilts and bubble wrap. A warm colony will consume much more honey than a cold one.
  • Don't completely seal them in they need to get out once in a while to spend a penny.
  • Don't liquid feed in winter months, chances are they will ignore it anyway. 

Are we all prepared, only time will tell.

See you at the next meeting, where I beleive discussions will be had regarding christmas feasting.



Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Honey Harvest (Part 2) …

When we left it, you had a box of comb, mostly honey and probably with live and dead bees in it as well, and a kitchen prepared for a little extraction. The following is a description of what I do but your mileage may vary. Please have a go and find your own methods - then let us know what you do.

I take my box to a quiet corner of the garden with a flat surface, ideally a table but I use the bonnet of my old Series 2 Land Rover (yet another project). I put the box gently down and then, using a handy piece of wood, quickly prop open the lid and run. Any flying bees, and there may well not be many, will have gorged themselves on honey and should slowly emerge from the box and attempt to find their hive. They should not be in a mood to sting but you never know - although I've never had a problem I prefer to run and then come back.

After a tea break I can then come back to the box knowing that those bees left are either too gummed up with honey, drowned or squashed to be of any danger to me. It now becomes a rescue and cleanup process. I use cutlery to go through the folds and pieces of comb in the box as carefully as I can. I fish out any bee I find and flick them onto the table/bonnet; I think that most become sweets and delicacies for the robins and others that nest nearby. Having gone through the comb and removed the bees you then come to a difficult decision. If you have taken comb that is purely honey or pollen then please skip this next bit. However, some comb may have brood in it is well. Now, I don't differentiate in any way and, callously, regard brood as a beneficial protein source. Whilst I don't deliberately seek comb that has brood in it I won't mind if a small amount of brood are in the comb I take. This often happens with a first year colony as the bees struggle to work out how to organise themselves. Why does this matter? Well the next stage could be difficult for some if you have brood present - although it is too late to put it back. If the thought of your honey including cells from squashed brood that make it through the filtering then you should seek those bits of comb, cut them out and remove them from the box. You will need to find a way to destroy them that suits you. Some freeze them and then crush them; worth thinking about carefully.

The honey extraction process I use is called 'crush and strain' and the first stage of the process is the 'crush'. With all bees, and brood if necessary, removed I set to with a metal potato masher and turn the comb into a runny, slightly lumpy, paste. After 5 minutes or so I then carefully pour the paste into the open end of the stocking which sits in a suitable bowl. It helps if you can persuade someone to help with this bit but it is possible to organise things so that you can pour into an open stocking. I do recommend having both hands free to hold the container with the mash in it - call it experience. I then hook the stocking over a number of pins nailed to a piece of wood held over a work surface - it works for me but you need to have thought about this before the mashing; the mash can weigh five or six pounds or more if you are processing a couple of combs at once.

Then its cleanup and a cuppa. Most of the honey will filter out over the first hour or so. During this time I sterilise my first set of jam jars, usually enough for five pounds of honey or so. Then I juggle containers so that I can remove the honey that has filtered and pour it into the jars - I try to avoid pouring into warm jars as I'm conscious that any heat will destroy the enzymes that make the honey you are extracting so unique. Then its a waiting game. I leave the suspended mash in the warmer air of my kitchen to slowly continue dripping gently for a couple of days. Once I'm happy I've got most of the honey out/another batch is waiting to go/wifey is fed up of getting her hair stuck to the suspended column, I peel out the remains from the stocking into a container and dispose of the stocking. The container is then gently warmed so the wax/remains/honey separate and I can peel or pour the wax from the slurry. The cold slurry is then added to the wormery or compost and the wax collected to be made into candles for presents over christmas.

Now you have the enviable problem of how to use the honey you have processed. I have seen small jars for sale for as much as £5 but I tend to give jars away to friends and people who have helped with the honey creating process; hive neighbours, swarm sources, and so on. Some people I know want to experiment with using natural local honey to help with hay fever - however there is a far more effective dietary way of doing this - another post if folks are interested in that. Please be aware that there are regulations regarding the sale of food items and you should do your research carefully so you don't get stung. I don't produce enough honey for my own and friends' needs yet so I've not had this problem to explore.

Hope this helps. Please use the comments to let me know if you want me to further expand on any of this.


Sunday 28 July 2013

The Honey Harvest (Part 1) ...

The end of July is my last harvest deadline. Its a personal thing. I'm happy to take the occasional comb from a hive during the flush of summer; it gives the bees space in a rapidly expanding colony and stops the queen from getting herself restrained in her egg laying by lack of available empty space (becoming honey bound). But the end of July is, for me, my personal limit as I want my bees to have their own honey available to them throughout the winter and spring months. The much maligned himalayan balsam is the botanical marker for me. As the first flowers of balsam light up the rougher areas of my garden I know that my harvest limit is upon me.

The summers for the last two years have been too poor for me to collect any honey so I had to brush off a significant build up of cobwebs from some of my honey straining system that has been hibernating outside the back door. Once the filter suspension system (a piece of wood with a row of tacks hammered into one end of it - it wedges between a roof beam and the top of a wall cupboard in the kitchen) is in place and a suitable clean filter stolen (one of my wife's best plain stockings) all is ready.

I choose a warm, windless day with no threat of rain. Then I take an old plastic bread bin (any large clean container with a well fitted lid will do - this bread box is handy as it will only take a maximum of two combs so I can't be too greedy). I choose the most active, and usually largest, colony and assemble all the necessary bee wrangling equipment next to the hive. For this task it is important to have a clean bee brush to hand - I use a large goose feather and I make sure I have at least two of them available. Please note - the bees will get stroppy when you do this raid. Dress appropriately!! I then start at the end of the colony furthest from the brood area and sort through the comb until I find the edge of the brood, keeping in mind those combs I come across with the most capped honey cells on them. Then, working back from the brood area, I take out those combs I've found with the most capped honey. Each chosen comb is carefuly removed, brushed clear of bees as best I can, and then folded into the bread box. Then I scrape off the wax from the top bar and put it back into the hive from the place it came from. If I'm removing two bars next to each other I make sure I slide a full comb in between them so there is less risk of cross combing. A second bar, if available and the bees have at least two or more others for themselves, gets removed, brushed and folded onto of the first in the bread box. You have to work fairly fast as bees will try to collect onto the comb you are removing to rescue their honey and you don't want to trap too many bees in the folds of comb - see later. Get a lid onto the box you are using as soon as you can. I always try to make sure I limit myself to two bars per raid as I would rather they had the honey they need to get through the bad times ahead. If necessary put in one or two extra bars as you think fit whilst you are there and the bees are already getting stressed.

Then close up the hive and move all equipment and your box of spoils well clear before removing gloves and veil. Note that even with the lid on your chosen treasure chest you may have bees crawling around under the edge of the box lid so be careful when picking it up - check first.

And thats it, raid over. You have the spoils captured securely in a bee tight box. But it is still unusable on your toast or in your smoothie so now what do you do? More to follow ….

Monday 8 July 2013

The Ones That Got Away....

In their excitement (at the prospect of the Wimbledon Final obviously) my bees decided to swarm yesterday, the children ran in to tell me that they were 'going mad' & it truly was an impressive site, the whole of the back end of the garden filled with buzzing bees covering a huge area. They eventually settled in the old apple tree & since I've never dealt with a swarm before & the prospect of having to knock them into the box off quite a solid branch while up a ladder, I then called for help.

Thanks so much to Tim & Mike for responding so quickly. As I shot up to the Co-Op for a larger box than we had, Tim arrived & just as he & Iain walked to the end of the garden, the bees just upped & left in the direction of Thulston!

I think the temperatures were so hot yesterday, an hour in the tree was all they could manage. Gutted to lose them by a matter of minutes, but will know to be quicker next time!

Plenty of activity still in & around my hive, so will keep my eyes out in case of a double whammy, as Mike & Monique have experienced!


Friday 28 June 2013

Wheel bees.

I got a call from a friend in the village asking me to come and help get some bees out from under her car. She had gone out to change a front nearside wheel with a slow puncture to find a swarm had taken up temporary residence in the wheel arch. Would I please come and move them on.

So I grabbed my wrangling gear and an empty box and whizzed over. The bees had taken up residence in the back of the wheel. To be able to see and get to them I had to start the car so that I could turn the wheels out - the only way to disengage the wheel lock on this nearly new car.

Anyway, while checking to see just how I was going to be able to get them out, I noticed a flash of movement on some nearby gravel. There was the queen, marching about in the open, and unattended!! I had spotted a flash of yellow paint out of the corner of my eye that some beekeeper had painted her back with to make it easier for them to find the queen in their hive. So I gently allowed her to crawl onto my glove and gently set her on some comb in the transfer box, quickly closed the bars up, opened the front entrance by removing the cork, sat back and watched. The bees in the wheel arch began to stream steadily from the wheel to the box in a thin wriggly line. Over the next 4 hours all the bees crossed into the box and settled in for the night. At dusk I came back, put in the cork and brought all the bees home. Got to be the best and easiest capture yet!!


Bee Wrangling Pt2 (cont ...)

Well, indeed, they stayed with me for a few days of holiday before being picked up by Jacquie. I picked up the bees from Mike and Monique early evening and took them home, driving very carefully. I always take extra care when driving with bees, as it only takes one careless road user to really spoil everyones day, so I'm extra vigilant and keep loads of distance between myself and the vehicle in front.

When I got home I then set about transferring them from their cardboard box and into a mini top bar hive (5 bar nucleus box). This was simply a matter of tipping them out and into their new home, trying to be as gentle as possible. Anyone who has ever done this knows that bees' feet can really cling on when they want to and that when they give way a whole lump of bees can tumble into the depths. As it was getting dark I was just hoping that the queen would be somewhere in the middle of such a lump. You can never get all the bees out so I got most of them to drop in and then held the box over the mini-hive and tapped the sides of the box to encourage the last few out. As soon as the box was empty I threw it as far away from me as I could to try to stop any bees flying back in towards any scent that may have been left on the cardboard after their stay in the box. Then it was just a matter of closing the bars and leaving the end hole open and then walking away. After dark I returned and, very gently, carried the box to its resting place, being mindful of any bees that were under the box. I spent a few minutes on the following evening just watching the entrance and they all seemed very settled.

They seem to be fairly calm bees and the box had put on quite a bit of weight during its stay here. It felt like an excellent colony to begin a new hobby with. I just hope that Jacquie has room enough between the combs to get them and their bees out!!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Update on Weston Swarm Number One

Well, while Mike & Mon's bees have been busy swarming again, Weston Swarm No 1 have been holidaying in Elvaston, while we holidayed in France!

Sarah came to collect them last night & move them to their new home near Ticknall & we were both pleased with how heavy the box was, definitely a good sign that they have been productive during their stay.

Mike - Sarah or I will get your bait box back to you once she has transferred them to her TBH.

Hope to see you all at the meeting next week.


Sunday 16 June 2013

Bee Wrangling Pt 2

Well as Boyd called us (me) bee wranglers here we go ...
Today we were just about to set off on our weekly bike ride to cappuccino land , when Monique called Mike into the back garden and again we had another swarm starting , this 1 week after the last!
Zoom in for bees !

Well they decided not to bother our neighbours thankfully but swarmed in our hedge then settled on hanging from a dogwood .  

We went for our bike ride (cappuccino ) and then Mike was detailed to collect the swarm ably assisted by Monique with a camera from a distance ( Mike suit zip had stuck so used Monique's)

So we phoned Tim who was coming over to collect them and pass them on to their new beekeeper.
As you can see the only box we had suitable was Mike Guitar amp box so lets hope it doesn't need to go back!
So Tim has the bees now and its up to some one else to continue this story board.
So the Vox pop (sorry) will continue hopefully , but we do have some questions. Are we unlucky to get a swarm a week later ? We did think this was a virgin queen flight at first but not the case , what are we likely to get next?

All the best


Sunday 9 June 2013

My first swarm collected

Hi All
We were just about to have lunch today and Monique called me to look in the back garden ..
Zoom in on the picture and you'll see , this despite a large swarm 2 weeks ago whilst we were away on half term.
This swarm settled in next doors apple tree so After messing about with a box above them , and that I didn't have Tim's number there was nothing for it but to try YouTube -.

It was great and a clip showed me exactly what to do and what to do if it didn't work 1st time , this was from a US top bar supplier so I gave it a go.
Putting my bait box under them , giving them a spray of water as was recommended  then giving them a shake they dutifully fell in and leaving it on the ground,  the bees that were left in the tree came and joined them all - success.

 Alison popped over and has collected them so hopefully they will be happy in their new home
I wouldn't say I'm ready for the next one , but I moved a bumble bee nest from the shed in the sale garden yesterday.

All the best


Monday 3 June 2013

Qatari Bees

After a few false starts I finally managed to meet up with one of Qatars few beekeepers and get my hands on some bees. I had seen a listing in the archive of the Qatar Natural History Group about a talk given by a local beekeeper some time before I arrived here. It gave his contact details and a few e-mails later I was kindly invited to a farm just outside Doha to see his small apiary.

Khalid Al-Suwaidi has been keeping bees for the last twelve years in an environment that is totally the reverse of that of the UK. In the Summer, when it's blisteringly hot, everything shuts down, and in the Winter, when it's Spring like and wetter, most things come to life. It is now just coming to the end of the beekeeping season which sees the disappearance of nearly all tender flowering flowers, shrubs and trees, and when standing water is at a premium. There were about twenty hives in three different locations around the farm, mostly with six frames in the brood chamber and six in the Super. Most of the hives seemed busy with lots of very placid bees to be seen. None of the frames we looked at were excessively full of honey but there seemed to be plenty being processed and lots of pollen. I took plenty of pictures! Because there is so little interest in beekeeping in Qatar all of his National hives and equipment, as well as the bees, were imported from Egypt. There is a lot of Arabic honey for sale in the supermarkets but none at all from Qatar. Khalid sells his honey from home as there is not enough to warrant his own shop. There don't seem to be many diseases (Varroa can't tolerate the heat apparently) or many predators (no wasps but lots of ants, and no ground base animals such as bears or badgers). The main problem is comb collapse due to the heat and a very colourful bird called a Bee Eater - can you guess what its main diet is? When we were talking about this bird, from the description, I thought Khalid meant a Woodpecker but checking in my Qatar bird book it was immediately obvious what he meant. Apparently they eat thousands of bees daily and have a very effective way of avoiding being stung - certainly different! Very generously Khalid gave me a selection of the produce from the farm - peppers, french beans, tomatoes, bottle gourds; much of which must have been pollinated by his bees.

As the weather cools down later in the year I might approach Khalid to see if I could catch a few swarms and keep them in some Warre hives. I intend to approach a local college to see if I can utilise their facilities to build the hives over the next few months. As I don't have access to any private outside space I intend to look locally for a place to keep the hives. I have heard that there is a gardening club in Doha that has something similar to allotments in the UK and they might be a good place to start.

Hope all is well back in the UK and Good Luck for the coming season.



Friday 31 May 2013

What was that all about?

An odd thing happened this afternoon with the hive that I didn't understand, perhaps someone can shed light upon the incident.

About 4.15, sun shining brightly, warm and still, thousands of bees boiled out of the hive filling the garden to over 30ft in the air. I wondered if I was witnessing a swarm starting to form. This went for about 20 mins and the the bees started to settle back on and below the hive in a swarm like form. Oh no, I thought, I'll never get underneath to capture them later in the evening.

I hastily donned the bee suit and wandered up to the hive. To my astonishment they were reentering the hive. Lots of the bees had their bums in the air, I assume spraying pheromones about. By 5 o'clock the colony seemed to be settling down into a fairly normal mode.

Did I witness the supercession of the old queen - a kind of apian coup d'etat?

I'd be grateful for your thoughts,


Sunday 12 May 2013

Melbourne Area Transition Invitational.

With many thanks to Sarah and family who came to our last annual Intro to Beekeeping session, we have been invited to describe our approach to husbandry with the Melbourne Area Transition group, whose website can be found here.

Wednesday 15th May, 7:45pm to 9:00pm
Church House (next to Melbourne Parish Church - follow the signs to Melbourne Hall and you can't miss the church)
£2 entry charge (probably to fund the venue and refreshments)

If you can come along and mingle enthusiastically we would appreciate the support. The format will be similar to our popular 'chat over a hive' style, as I'm told the venue is quite intimate, but we've been asked to kick off with a more formal 10 minute summary of sustainable beekeeping.

Wish us luck ....


Monday 6 May 2013

Bait Hive Cam now live

Hi I've put my bait hive out and you can view live action at  user name - bees password bees - works on Google chrome , and Firefox  log into server push mode works on ie 10

let me know how you get on - last computery type blog promise


Monday 29 April 2013

Finally an end(if only for 2 years) on neonicotinoids

Common sense seems to have finally made a difference, with Germany leading the way a temporary ban while more field tests are carried out has been agreed by the EU on the use of neonicotinoids, good news for all bee keepers.

Typically the UK voted against partially blaming varroa for the bee decline.

Not a bad bit on the BBC, lots on the biobee forum.


Sunday 21 April 2013

Lets attract some bee's

It's that time of year when we need to get ready for the swarming period. The bee's are flying, well at least mine are, and producing brood after a very quick look during the last calm sunny day.
That much activity I had to open the second entrance.

Box with lid and frame on bank
where bee's fly down the  garden

This means the scout bee's will be hunting up potential new homes for when the colony decides it's time to go forth and multiply. So what do you need to do. The answer is simple get those bait boxes out. What I hear you ask are bait boxes. Well for those who have just built their hives at the 'big hive build' they will do lovely, in fact each one could be three bait hives if you make more follower boards. For myself I use square flower pots from wilkos, sounds low tech but last year I attracted 3 swarms into my bait hives. 

A little more detail then:- 

1 - A suitable size container, needs to be about 6-9 top bars.
2 - Some old honeycomb if you have any(attached to a top bar).
3 - One or two drops of lemongrass oil(not the aromatherapy stuff).
4 - Lots of patience.
Another on top of the boys play shed destined to bee
'shed bee's ' if any are attracted.

Get your boxes all ready and then put them out, if possible in an area where you see bee's flying on a regular basis and then wait. Every couple of weeks top up the lemongrass.

One word of advice if you do attract a swarm and are going to house it in a full size hive, do it as soon as you can as they will only allow you to do so for a couple of days at most. After that if they decide to stay you will only be able to follow the 3 foot 3 mile rule.

Friday 19 April 2013

More photos of the first Big Build Part 1.

The day begins with laying out tools and materials, de-nailing the scrap wood, cutting to size, building templates and general tea consumption:

With time moving on the old ones burn the midday oil, supervised by the next generation, as its all hands to the pumps:

But some still find time for a brew!!

Mid afternoon and final assembly of the modules is zipping along, almost like an industrial assembly line. Note that four of the six 4' Chandler hives are fitted with perspex 'windows'.

And by the close of the day we had 6 hives, and Pete's 10 bar special, completed - a very productive and enjoyable day and many thanks to Alison and family for putting up with us.

And look who got the halo!!

Roofs are being built tomorrow (Saturday 20th at Alison's again), all welcome.


Monday 15 April 2013

Hive Building - Part 2

As we briefly discussed at the end of the day last week, those that would like help completing a roof for their new hive are welcome at mine this Saturday (20th) at 11am. Please bring anything with you that you think may be useful - materials, tools or ideas on design! If you can't make it, but still need a roof making, please let me know asap. See you then. Alison

Saturday 6 April 2013

Beeautiful Day!

Mother Nature must have been in support of our efforts to increase the local bee population by providing us with the first day of spring that actually felt like spring rather than the arctic tundra! A fantastic day, thanks to everyone for making it so enjoyable & great success of 6 hives nearly complete - here's to stage 2 & the roof build in a couple of weeks! Alison

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Hive Building & Meeting info

Hi all Meeting: As those of us that made it tonight discovered, after many months of uncertainty the Shakespeare has now closed! We reconvened in the Malt Shovel & although cosy, is not v practical for a gathering of above 3, so from next month, our 1st Wednesday in the month meeting will be held at the Harrington Arms, Thulston. Plenty of space, parking, real ale & hospitable landlords. Hive Building: Hive building will be this Saturday (6th April) from 11am at mine - think we have pretty much sorted tools, wood etc, everyone welcome, I will have the kettle going, & bearing in mind the temperature, will probably put a big pan of soup on as well, but please bring sandwiches etc. Anyone need address, directions etc, please email/ring/text me or anyone else in the group you have a contact for (I've been advised not to post address on a public blog thats all!) Look forward to seeing everyone then. Alison

Arabic bees

Saw the first bees at my small feeder this morning. The weather is so warm here that the small trickle of syrup, that leaks out from under an up-turned tomato puree tin, dries almost instantly; but obviously they don't mind. I'll keep an eye on it over the next few days to see if the numbers build and hopefully get some pictures. Next I'll have to make tentative enquiries about actually keeping bees and possibly building a hive.

Also, I have been offered a two bed roomed house (villa) on the outskirts of the city which may also make beekeeping a more practical proposition.

Watch this space!

Doha, Qatar

PS Good Luck for the hive building day!

Friday 29 March 2013

The Big Hive Build event - 6th April 2013.

Will this cold weather ever end (and then give way to April showers and spring storms!!)? Sitting at home here, in front of a roaring log burner at noon for goodness sake, my mind is casting forward to next week's big event - the hive build.

So far we have requests for a total of four hives as far as I'm aware - with Sarah from Melbourne asking for the fourth yesterday. I've started to assemble 4 foot side panels from 20mm tongue and groove board that used to be the roof of a neighbours shed. Won't be pretty without a coat of paint but near no cost. I should have enough for the side panels of all 4 hives. I'll then do an audit for the end panels and follower boards. Does anyone have suitable gash timber for 16 legs each up to 40 inches long? I'll pop over to Screwfix next week for BZP M8 threaded coach bolts (£11.29), BZP M8 nuts (£3.32 for 100 nylocs!!) and large flat M8 BZP washers (£0.73 for pack of 10 and each hive uses 8, so 4 packs needed so far).

So along with sustenance, power, wear on the tools, transporting materials, etc I don't think that a nominal charge of £20 to £25 per hive would be unreasonable, especially as some components of the hives will have been preassembled and drilled (I'll be using 19mm entrance holes as these fit trimmed wine bottle corks - I don't drink enough champagne or get invited to the right parties to have larger corks floating around).

The other areas to consider are top bars, hive bottoms (solid - shallow or deep, mesh or open), and roofing. If I can make the space I can rip down top bars from suitable boarding but I may have to actually buy this unless someone has some old floor joists, off cuts or something similar I can use, ideally 17 inches long or more.

Any thoughts, comments or offers on any of this would be helpful as we don't have much time after Wednesday's meeting to get some of this done. Please use the comments below.

Happy Easter to you all,


Tuesday 19 March 2013

Saw this and thought of you all

Whilst trawling my photos I came across the image below. It is the first type of internal feeder that I made; having seen the design on another web site. It was pretty easy to made, from some scrap bits of 3mm marine ply and galvanised wire. My only modification was the cut-out in the top bar that allowed access without disturbing the follower board. A 300mm hook, made from the same wire, allows the float to be lifted level with the top of the feeder box and sugar syrup gently poured over/past it. In theory it shouldn't disturb the bees very much but, bees being bees, they would often want to investigate the flowing liquid with sticky results (for them). It might be easier to use some sort of funnel arrangement rather than pouring in direct.

The small piece of wood with the hoop is a float, with three countersunk
holes, that stops bees from falling into the sugar solution
Anyway hope this of some help and gives you something to do during the cold winter evenings; although the clocks go forward this weekend so summer is on its way.


Sunday 10 March 2013

First Bees

Whilst waiting to be picked-up for work this morning I noticed my first bees in Doha. The few I saw were working hard to try and find pollen and/or nectar amongst some rather scruffy bedding plants; but without much success as most of the flowers were either closed or not yet fully formed.

The bees themselves were small and fairly dark with pale grey pollen bundles on their legs. I will try tomorrow to photograph a few if they stay still long enough and at the weekend I will try to bee-line them to see where they are coming from. So cue some funny looks from other residents!

I'm happy now that I have something bee related to do and that it's an activity that doesn't revolve around shopping or eating!

Cheers for now......


Thursday 7 March 2013

More Bees or Bees Part III (3rd time Lucky?)

Thursday 7/3/13

I get a surprise phone call from Dave on Wednesday evening to say someone in the Belper area was looking to get rid of a colony along with hive, would I be interested? YES!

Thinking this would be happening over the next week or so imagine my shock when I got a call this afternoon to ask if I was really interested and if so could I collect them soon?
"How soon?" I asked.
"Anytime today or tomorrow morning. We're moving house tomorrow and we would like to hand them  over as soon as possible".

Okaaay, a little sooner than I'd expected.

"How big is the hive, I've only got a car, and do the legs come off?" I asked.
"About 4ft long and no the legs don't come off" was the reply.

Length is ok but height not good. Tricky.

"We could saw the legs off if that helps", they said.
"Right-ho, do that and I'll be there as soon as possible"

And off I went and arrived home 45 mins later with a hive without legs plus bees (I hope, not yet verified). It's currently sat on the patio on two concrete blocks.

 Its a bit of an odd looking hive maybe its the lack of legs ...

Looks like the ones produced by Thorne and appears to be made from plywood. I haven't measured the dimensions yet but seems to be no longer than 3ft.

Moved to its new temporarily permanent place in the garden this morning (Saturday 9th). Didn't hear much from the hive when I was shortening the legs and moving it around. Hope they're still in there!

Not likely to see any activity in the next few days given the weather predictions (the gaffer tape has been removed from the exit hole at the front just in case they want to go for a fly round).

Saturday 2 March 2013

Garden activity

Hi all
It was great to see you all on Thursday , the turn out was fantastic and we're all enthused ready for the spring.
As the sun has got its hat on we've has a lot of flying today and the bees have been feeding on Monique's snowdrops in the front garden .

So it looks like they know how to make the most of the sunshine  and they are coming back loaded up and taking a rest in the Sunshine on the roof of the hive. Not sure about the pollen though very pale.
So we look forward to beeing with you all on Wednesday .


Thursday 28 February 2013

Successful meeting!

Thought I'd add a quick word about tonight's meeting, largely for the benefit of the Qatari branch of DaDBeep, (though sure you will have more exciting things going on this week!) Really good turn out from the group & new faces, had to drag people out at 9pm (sorry Dave!) Have 10 new contacts, so will email over the weekend & maybe see some next Wednesday (6th) in the Shakey & also mentioned to a few & agreed with Tim, M&M, Adam & others that we will plan for the hive building event on 6th April, details to be sorted over next few weeks. Thanks everyone for a good evening, see you Wed. Alison

Monday 18 February 2013


Just in the process of fitting a bee proof cap to one of the chimneys on our roof, and whilst surveying what was needed I noticed a great deal of activity yesterday morning. It was a typical winters morning - a heavy frost and bright sunshine, and several hundred bees were buzzing all around the entrance. I have noticed that there are several mature Acers locally that are in full flower so there must be a good supply of local forage for them and a therefore enough reason for them to stretch their wings and get some groceries in.

I have already packed my bee suit in preparation of my stuff being collected next Friday but I will need to un-pack to work up on the roof. Now that would be a good send off - severe stinging to the face and neck followed by a twenty foot drop onto the garage roof.

"I'm sorry sir but as your passport picture looks nothing like you we can't let you in!". 

Right! Furniture moving is the order of the day so must stop this drivel now.

Bee Good

Boyd x

Sunday 10 February 2013

Introduction Event - 28 February 2103

Similar to the event last year there will again be an Introductory Event to encourage new beekeepers and highlight the benefits of pursuing a natural approach via TBH or Warre hives. It will take place at:

Elvaston Village Hall
DE72 3EP

Thursday 28 February 2013
19:00 - 21:00

If you are able to offer Tim, Dave and Alison your support it would be most welcome. Unlike last year as well as the seasoned beekeepers there are now several members who, having kept bees for at least one season, will be an invaluable resource for other newbies regarding the highs and lows of caring for bees.

Sadly the day of this event I will be flying off to Qatar so obviously won't be able to make it but my thoughts and support will be with you all.


Tuesday 22 January 2013

Meetings and Events to Easter.

Diary Dates

I took a few notes of the dates that were discussed at the last DaDBeeP meeting at the beginning of January so (late as ever) here they are:
  • Wed 6th Feb - DaDBeeP monthly bee meeting.
  • Thurs 28th Feb - Public Introductory Event, Elvaston Village Hall 7pm-9pm
  • Wed 6th March - DaDBeeP monthly bee meeting.
We also discussed having a Hive Building Event during Easter Fortnight, date to be decided on the 6th Feb meeting.

Event advertising

I hope we can work out a way of getting posters to people for distribution - can we get to meet Boyd somewhere to pick them up?

Please think about what organisations you could inform about the Intro Event. There are loads of gardening societies as well as a crop of Transition Town organisations and other 'green' campaign groups. Does anyone have a contact in the Local Government or Parish Councils who might be able to pass on advertising? Some communities have spaces or woodland that is owned/managed by the community. There are community agricultural organisations, garden centres and farm shops; and thats all before we get to the local post offices and notice boards.

Could we even think of notifying businesses that might want to sponsor their own local hive that could be managed in a community space or on a local organic farm? Could we even move into community hive management?

Quick - stop me thinking!!!

Looking forward to seeing you all on the 6th Feb, if not before.

Best to you all,


(Edited to amend Intro Meeting date - thanks Boyd, what are we going to do without you? I can't even get the dates right!!)

Saturday 19 January 2013

Finally buzzing off......

I'm sad to say that after much paper shuffling I now have my departure date for Qatar. My last day at work will be Friday 15 February, and I will fly to Doha on Thursday 28 February. Again sadly Thursday 28 is the day of the 'Introductory Meeting' for new recruits at Elvaston village hall and I won't be able to make it. Hopefully Tim, Alison and a few other TBH converts can be on hand to offer advice and support to anyone thinking of taking up a more sympathetic approach to beekeeping.

I would hope that the small, but enthusiastic, core of DaDBeep members will continue to fly the flag for a differing approach to beekeeping and maintain the fledgling local network we've created.

If the weather improves I will try to visit a few of you before the next meeting to drop off some posters for the 'Introductory Meeting'; if not hopefully I'll catch-up with you on Wednesday 6 February.

Cheers for now

Friday 11 January 2013

February Meeting Plans

Hi all - have spoken to the lady that takes bookings for Elvaston Village Hall & 13th Feb is booked, so is most of the rest of February - only dates available around that time are 7th, 22nd, 28th or 1st March, so its either one of those or an alternate venue?  What does anyone think?  Let me know.


Wednesday 9 January 2013

DaDBeeP Meeting - Wednesday 9 January 2013

Massive thanks to those who braved it on this dank evening; a shame that a few more couldn't make it but I know we are all busy people. There was however plenty of energetic post Christmas chat, unusually mostly about bees, and between us we formulated a plan to spread the word about 'natural' beekeeping and Top Bar hives to a wider audience over the next few months. I won't steal Tim Lowe's thunder on the 'recruitment drive' but I hope you can all either help-out in someway or attend a few of the events we have planned!


Thursday 3 January 2013

Its warm and the garden is buzzing

Hi all
It was great to see so many of you just before the festive break.

So the 1st dry day for ages I took my bike out and when I got back I've found that the bees are back to normal (don't buy a white car) . I took a look down the garden and the hive was quite busy.
I've seen bees carry others away so I guess it is like taking the tree down and they are having a bit of a tidy up . I just hope that they aren't lured into a false sense that winter is over .

On another note my brother bought me the Green Guides Keeping Bees book , and we both think it is very good and even mentions top bar hives and plastic variations !
We both look forward to catching up next week