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.