Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Trip to 'Big Tree Honey Farm'.

So it was planned yesterday to go out to get Annabel s bees from the honey farm. Of course it rained most of the day but then the skies cleared and the rain stopped and the postponement which had been placed earlier in the day was lifted and off we went!!

As most of you will know Annabel won her bees as part of her Leslie Thorne Award and so as a District Grantham Beekeepers had to source her a good strong colony of bees. To do this we approached Eddy Gadd who then wouldn't take any money off us so we donated a sum of money to a charity to a charity of his choice which was 'Bees for Development'!!

Now we will go straight in with some photo's of Annabel, her Mum and Jez, (the chairman of Grantham District Beekeepers) meeting up and having a chat before sorting out the bees and then we will also get to see a few photos of Eddy's Farm and set up.

We arrive at Big Tree Honey Farm.
We arrive at Big Tree Honey Farm.

First arrival at Big Tree Honey Farm
First arrival at Big Tree Honey Farm.
Meeting with Eddy and sorting
the paperwork.
Securing the nuc for transport
Eddy and Jez Securing
the nuc for transpo
strong colony with laying
queen over 5 frames

Annabel thanks Eddy and shakes his hand!!
Annabel thanks Eddy
and shakes his hand!!

After we had sorted out the bees and got them ready for transport Eddy was kind enough
to let us have a Little look around his farm where he rears his bees, spins and creams his honey.
bumble bees in a bird house
Eddy had some bumble bees in a bird
house which he has just
yet he has not had chance to identify
 the species and I am not too familiar
with bumble bees!!

Nucs ready for transport to other beekeepers
These are nucs all with laying queens
in ready to be transported to bee keepers
around the county.

Flying bees from Annabel s nuc
The bees you see here are the ones
that were out foraging when we
moved Annabel s hive, don't worry
though they will drift into a hive
close by.

queen rearing nucs ready for dispatch
As well as full size nucs Eddy rears
'queen nucs'. These are much smaller
and only have a handful of bees
to go into a nuc upon delivery.

Lincolnshire Honey, Big tree honey farm van.
To do all this nuc rearing you need
a good mode of transport and Eddy
has his van. You can always contact
him for info or if you are interested
in sourcing some bees from him.
Loading the nuc for transport
So after a lovely chat and look around
the farm it was time to load up the bees
into the and get them to their new home.

Secure nuc in the back of a car
The bees were loaded into the boot.
We didn't go to collect until about
7:30pm knowing that it would be
a cooler ride home and that there
would be less chance of the bees
overheating and getting stressed out.

Paperwork for where the bees came from and what 'strain' they are.
Paperwork for where the bees came
 from and what 'strain' they are.
So that was it. The hive was transported successfully and now Annabel is a fully fledged beekeeper!!

The bees will need to go into a full size hive with them being such a big colony so Annabel can get stuck straight in with her management as soon as they have had and evening to settle!!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Bee by Eleanor Stodart (book Review)

The Bee
I found this book whist doing some research at work in the
Library with the children. It was lovely to find a book
aimed at children.
This was a wonderfully informative book with the hierarchy of the hive broken down into simple terms that the children could follow and I found it very refreshing to find a book I could share with the children which wasn't bogged down with lots of terminology they wouldn't understand or really need to know yet.

There are plenty of photos within the book to show the children what could be expected to be seen.

Eggs, Brood and cells.
Eggs, Brood and cells.

close up of the pupae
close up of the pupae

Stages of pupae to bee.
Stages of pupae to bee.

The only thing I found about the book that was a little disappointing was that the photos were in black and white and not colour. Otherwise it is a great back and one well worth sourcing if you know of children who are interested in bees. The book is aimed for children 10 years and under.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Swarm Control update.

So this year I tried a different method of swarm control which I heard about on a talk given at L.B.K.A.s A.G.M.

If you haven't read up on it then you can find out what I did here

Anyway nearly two weeks has passed and just a quick peek the other day showed me this....

poly deep brood nuc, swarm control
Bees in deep brood nuc

poly deep brood nuc, swarm control
Bees in deep brood nuc
They aren't the best pictures in the world and I only had a quick peek but all is looking well and they have greatly multiplied in numbers. Pollen is coming in and I am very happy with the ease of this method of swarm control. Still plenty of activity in the old hive and plenty of bees though due to the whether I haven't been able to go in and have a proper look yet. Hopefully tomorrow the weather wil be kind and then I will be back with a full update.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Weekend Course.

Weekend course: “Bees, flies and flowers: the ecology of pollination and why it matters” 

(26 – 28 June 2015.)

Garden Flowerbed.
Are you worried about the plight of wild bees and other pollinators? These insects provide a crucial service pollinating crops and wildflowers. Yet there is widespread concern about their decline. This course will teach you how to identify and monitor common pollinators such as bumblebees and hoverflies, how to measure their importance to flowers, and how you can contribute to pollinator conservation.
You will learn to assess your own garden for its value to pollinators. You will try out practical techniques used in pollination ecology, including preparing a pollen sample for microscopic examination and measuring insect behaviour. Expect to go home with an entirely different view of flowerbeds and road verges. The course is taught by Dr Lynn Dicks, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Department of Zoology. Lynn has a PhD in the ecology of pollinating insects, awarded from Cambridge in 2002 and has continued to work as a science writer and broadcaster for 10 years. She is keen that as many people as possible notice and enjoy the diversity of wild pollinators that busy themselves around us every summer.
This weekend course takes place at the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education’s home, Madingley Hall, over the weekend of the 26 – 28 June. The course costs £250 which includes lunch & dinner over the weekend, refreshments, and tuition. It is also possible to stay at Madingley Hall’s B&B over the weekend at an additional cost starting from £50 per night, subject to availability. If you would like to sign up or would like more information about the course, please visit

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The First 21 days of a bees life......

We've heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable? Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard — in front of a camera — to get an up close view. This project, for the May 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life. With his incredible footage, set to music from Magik*Magik Orchestra, Varma shows the problem ... and what’s being done to solve it.

Sorry, the video doesn't seem to have downloaded properly bit you can Find the original video here

(This talk was part of a session at TED2015 guest-curated by Pop-Up Magazine: or @popupmag on Twitter.)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson.......Book Review

Dave Goulson; conservationist and family man grew up obsessed with wildlife.

A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson.......Book Review
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson
This book is about the 'Short Haired Bumblebee' which was once commonly found in the marshes of Kent but now (or at least at time of publication of the book) only exists in the wilds of New Zealand-descendants of queens shipped out there in the nineteenth century.

Dave Goulsons passion is reintroduction of this bee back to its native land and is one of the highlights in his book which includes research into the bees history and relationships and also gives advice on protection of the species.

Whilst this book has nothing to do with Honey bees it is well written, has many avenues extensively researched and is definitely worth a read. after all we need more than just the honey bees to pollinate our crops!!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Swarm Control.

So swarm season is really upon us and a quick visit to my hives showed that there was an awful lot of activity and gave me that dreaded feeling that most beekeepers get...are my bees going to swarm??

Very busy hive entrance.
Very busy hive entrance.
A quick look into the hive showed many bees and two sealed swarm cells but luckily the weather was on my side and the bees hadn't swarmed which they typically would have done by the time swarm cells were sealed.

So onto swarm control then. This year after hearing a talk on swarming when I went to the AGM of Lincolnshire Beekeepers Association I decided to try this method as it was simple and straight forward without the need for moving about heavy brood boxes.

The method is very straight forward. 

  • Have a nuc ready with undrawn foundation and some syrup for feed.
  • Open your hive and remove supers.
  • Remove queen excluder.
  • Locate queen and put her safely in a 'queen clip catcher'
  • take two frames of brood with flying bees and place in the centre of the nuc ensuring there are no queen cells on the frames
  • put undrawm foundation either side of brood frames.
  • put syrup in feeder of nuc.
  • release queen into the nuc.
  • Shut the nuc up and leave ventilation only for two days. after this open nuc to let bees fly and collect nectar/pollen.

This will leave your main hive with plenty of brood to hatch out and bees to collect supplies whilst you are waiting for your new queen to emerge, mate and start laying.

Also the two frames of brood you have removed will be replaced with undrawn foundation which will keep the bees busy whilst waiting for their new queen.

The theory is that by the time you open up your nuc the bees will have forgotten that they were in the other hive and so simply come back to the nuc once they leave.

Like I have said I only heard about this sort of swarm control recently and this is my first time trying it out but it was very simple to do without too much disruption to the bees and there is no moving about of the hives which I personally found very appealing especially as I am on deep brood and they get very heavy.

So this is my first solo swarm control.....Fingers crossed it all goes well!!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Annabel and her hive.

So we all have heard about Annabel winning the Leslie Thorne Award Right?? If you don't know what I am talking about then just go here for a quick catch up!!

Anyway a couple of weeks ago Annabel went to see Jez and started building her hive and than last Sunday I popped up to give Annabel a little refresher on how to build your brood frames up.

Annabel busy building brood frames.
Annabel busy building brood frames.

The last three pins going in the brood frames for the beehive.
The last three pins going in the brood frames for the beehive.
I initially built a frame up closely supervised by Annabel and then using mine as a guide she got to putting some together herself with Mum to help on the trickier parts. I was more than happy to help out as I remember when I first needed to build some frames up a year after I had done the course and the construction of the first one not only was laughable but took me over half an hour!!

There was a lengthy discussion on how many pins we should use...what would you have told Annabel??

Bee hive ready to be assembled in place.
Bee hive ready to be assembled in place.
So these are the sections of Annabel's beehive all ready to be shipped and constructed in her chosen space. Annabel is going to have her hive on her Mums allotment overlooking plenty of fields and not far from a water source.

Now Annabel just needs to decide if she wants to paint the hive before her bees arrive!!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Beekeeping by Andrew Davies...Book Review.

'Inspiration and practical advice for would be small holders.'
Beekeeping by Andrew Davies

'Inspiration and practical advice for would be small holders.'

This practical guide from 'Country Living' and 'The National Trust' explores everything you need to know about beekeeping including;

  • How to become a beekeeper
  • Hives and equipment
  • Common problems
  • Collecting honey
  • Swarms and how to avoid them
A very east book to follow, well headed chapters and sub-chapters. A good 'Beekeepers Year' at the back along with a resource section and a glossary with those all important words which you need to know but are a little tricky!!

A handy size to be able to take to the hives with you.

No glossy colour photos in this one though so if you're a newbie it is a great book to have but maybe one to go alongside a more in-depth book with some good colour close ups to guide you in tricky situations!!