Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Next generation of Bee-Keepers.

I don't really have a 'stereo-typical' in my mind for bee-keepers but I do know that most of the people I have heard of who are interested in bee keeping or who are already bee-keepers are of the older generation. Does this then mean we are a dying breed??

I sincerely hope not as this would mean that sooner rather than later there would be no-one around to give the bees that little bit of help to keep there numbers up in the world.

That is why I was really pleased when my friends daughter showed great interest when I got my first hives last year, so much so in fact that she has joined the course that Grantham Bee-keepers are currently running.

The course is now about half way through and so last Saturday when I was going to do a hive inspection I invited Annabel to come along and go through the hives with me.

Suited up for a hive inspection.
Looking 'cool' in  her bee suit!!
I have to say I don't think I have ever seen a bee suit look 'cool' until Annabel wore one!!

So once we were suited up we went through the hives. Annabel was great and really enjoyed it, She even saw the queen marked with a red spot and spotted the capped queen cell in the nuc hive.

Annabel did say that next time she wouldn't wear the 'dangly' earrings as she kept thinking they were bees when they moved!!

Next time I will let her take the lead a little more so she gets a bit more hands on experience.

I am so pleased that we have a junior in our group and hope that it's only the beginning and that in time we will get more juniors interested and joining us too!!

If you know of any children who are interested then why don't you seek out your closest bee-keeping association and see if they can get involved to help save the bees.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Swarm season is upon us.

So swarm season is definitely in full swing and we are all trying to stay on top of things and do artificial swarms before our darling colonies split and bugger off.

All that said though it's inevitable that some will get missed and I have already heard of a few swarms being collected.

Today I went out to give Jez a hand with his inspection and as we were just about to leave we saw a swarm coming in to land.

First of all Jez thought it might have been one of Roy's hives as it had a lot of outside activity on our arrival.

Beehive full to overflowing with bees.
A lot of activity outside the hive.
But a quick check still had all the bees there so it definitely wasn't the above hive that had swarmed...and we didn't see one of Jez's swarm....maybe it was one of mine??/ They aren't that far away?!?!?!

Anyway...I was quite pleased to see first hand and close up a swarm and at this point realised that i need to treat my beekeeping just like my gardening and ALWAYS have my camera with me as you never know when you might need it. Needless to say i didn't have my camera with me...i had got a phone though...where was it?? Oh yeah...in my trousers pocket INSIDE my bee suit!!

Well I couldn't NOT photograph this first experience and share with you so I walked away a little and managed o get my phone out only to find the battery starting to die...GGGGGRRRRRRRR.!!!!

I did however with some patience and switching the phone off every now and then to build a little extra life into it manage to get a few shots...not great ones as my phone isn't great but better than nothing.

Picture the scene....Little ole me....dressed like an astronaut......sat crossed legged......under a gorse bush.....with thousands of bees swirling around me.....It was a great moment to 'bee' a part of!!

Swarm of Bees in a gorse bush
Swarm of Bees in a gorse bush

Cutting the bush back to get to the swarm.
Cutting the bush back to get to the swarm.

Getting the 'nuc' into position to shake the bees into.
Getting the 'nuc' into position to shake the bees into.

Nuc with bees on outside 'fanning' to let other bees know where the queen is.
Nuc with bees on outside 'fanning' to let other bees know where the queen is.

Now all we can do is wait to see if the queen stays..they will be checked in a few days.
Now all we can do is wait to see if the queen stays..they will be checked in a few days.
So that was my first swarm encounter. Jez said it must have been a.....erm....well not a prime swarm but the other one which name escapes me just now as there weren't that many bees around. I'm sure the name will came back to me?!?!

So in a few days they will need to be checked and fed and then they will need to be treated for varroa before being homed in a full size hive.

Did you know that you immediately become the owner of a swarm you catch??

Do we get to share these then Jez??

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Standard brood, deep brood, standard brood...damn!!!

So last week we ( that would be Jez and I) had to 'bee' a little radical with my deep brood hive which also had some standard brood frames in and perform a sort of swarm control and hack away at a few combs in the process.

Brood removed from the bottom of standard national brood frames
Brood removed from frames
As you will see from the photos below we were quite brutal and now know that putting standard brood frames in a deep brood box isn't the best idea in the world. The bees built down as we had hoped but so far they were attaching the comb to the hive floor which made inspection impossible.

With this in mind we knew the frames had to somehow be replaced with deep brood so finding a capped queen cell was the perfect thing for us but does go against the fact that with more space the bees won't swarm as they were obviously going to.

Anyway that's another story...sw we split the hives...sliced and diced the comb, embedded a capped queen cell where we wanted it to be...shut the hives, crossed out fingers and hoped for the best. Luckily for us there had been a couple of days of shitty weather so the previous queen hadn't swarmed.....now we have to wait and see!!