Tuesday, 31 May 2016

From Bee to You

As a small local District it's always nice to find local businesses which are relevant to us. Although Nottingham based not too far for a visit and some wonderful products for gifts too.

Check out their facebook page.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Hiving a swarm or.......Boxing the bees!!!

So yesterday I am in the car just outside of Cambridge at about 4:30pm when I get a call...'There's a swarm of bees on the fence post at the allotment...I think they may be yours?!'

Of course being in a car near Cambridge means I can't do that much about it right then and there but after I had got home and got a bite to eat I headed off to the allotment to see what was occurring.

So this is what I saw when I got to
the allotment.
 Looked like quite a small swarm....I was thinking maybe I had missed a queen cell and that it was a cast swarm from my hive. They hadn't gone very for if this was the case.

My hives on the neighbouring
Next thing to do was check out my hives...they proved to be heaving and intact as did Annabels so the swarm had flown in from elsewhere and maybe decided to check out the hives and see if they could fit...maybe this was just where they settled but no matter what there thought process they couldn't stay on the fence post of someone's raspberry canes...they had to be removed.....so off we went to sort out a nuc to put the swarm in.

The swarm was quite deceiving and many bees had
hidden themselves under the posts.
This became evident when we started
moving the bees!!
So turns out it was a beautifully natured
prime swarm...a large one at that!!
Of course it would have been so much easier
if they had taken up residence in a tree, then
we could have shook them into the nuc. As it
was it was a painstaking job scooping the bees
up by any means possible and hoping we got
thequeen in the process!!
Annabel, Juliette and I each took turns with the camera and the bees, hoping and praying that somewhere we got the queen too!!

Smoke was used but only to get the bees out of the awkward places, we mainly just scooped them up in our hands and occasionally with the bee brush. I always love the feel of hundreds of bees buzzing in your hands at once!!
Now just enjoy a few pics that were taken throughout the process!

At one stage we had no option but to
cut back a few raspberry canes to
help gain access to yet more bees!!
I'm sure the plot holders won't mind...better
a few less raspberries than not being able
to pick them at all!!

The bees soon started 'fanning' on the hive so we
are hoping that we got the queen in the box!!


Of course despite all of our efforts the bees did keep going back to the post too. We smoked it several times but the queen's pheromone is strong and will still be lingering there so many of the flying bees kept going back to the post. They went back, we scooped a few more. With such a big swarm this went on for a while and we were all wearing quite a few bees!!


About half an hour after we started this is
what we had. Plenty of 'fliers' but also plenty
of bees; on top, in, around and at the entrance.
Clustering around the entrance.

Enjoying a bit of ambrosia!!

In this picture Juliette is trying to 'save'
the bees from drowning in syrup!

 So after a while we decided we had done as much as we possibly could and we shut the nuc up. As you can see the bees have been put into a poly nuc with six frames. These are new undrawn frames and some ambrosia syrup with added 'Hive Alive' has been put into the feeder at the side.

The queen excluder has been put into the feeder chamber so the queen cannot gain access to the syrup.At the front of the hive we clsed it up so the bees could continue to fly in but the queen could not get out.

This was how we left the hive at about 9:00 pm yesterday evening (just as well it was a nice day!!

I have been up this morning to check. There are a few hundred bees still clustering on the post where they originally settled, the rest are in the box and it is VERY full!!

So we must have got the queen...Right????

This evening after the bees stop flying I shall close the hive up and move it to a more suitable location because presently it is sat on an allotment path. I shall then leave it closed up for a few days. The it will need to be re-hived as they are a very big swarm which only just fit in the nuc and I doubt it will be long before they have drawn all those frames out!!

Annabel is going to have this swarm...she learnt the hard way last year about checking stores so I am confident that this swarm will do well with her this year!!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Queen Marking.

So a couple of weekends ago I went over to a fellow member's house to give him a hand Queen marking. Now believe me when I say I am no expert at this but over the years few I have been beekeeping I have marked my queens with zero fatalities so when asked said I would be happy to help.

It was a good day for going into the hives when I went over, not too much wind and bright and warm and the bees were flying happily. I went over armed with everything we would need to mark the queens.......

Queen clip catcher.

Press in cage.

Blue Marking pen.
So this is all you need to effectively mark your queen, there are other variations to the equipment but these are the ones I am comfortable using. All Stephens queens were born last year which was fortunate as 2015 was a blue year and this is one of the few colours he can see as he is colour blind!!!

The first hive we opened was the quickest, the queen was on a lovely drawn frame of brood and easily caught, marked and returned with no issues whatsoever. Stephen is now using deep brood boxes. He started out with standard nationals so presently he has standard frames which he is slowly going to filter out as he changes frames over.

We had a bit of a sort of the frames moving those that were standard with stores on to the outside of the hive and putting deep ones within being careful not to split up any frames with actual brood on. I know from switching frames out it is a slow process but you get there eventually.

In the second hive it was a little trickier to find the queen but after the third time through we managed to spot her on a frame which she had obviously just moved to and started laying on so signs of brood were not obvious. Once spotted she was easy to catch and I let Stephen take the lead and mark the second queen.

Once done we went inside and had tea and cake!! :-)

I then went over to Catherine's to mark some queens. Catherine is a more seasoned beekeeper with several hives but has never marked her queens and I said I would give her a hand after she was worried after reading this post and how it is possible to damage your queen whilst attempting to mark it!! If you haven't read it I recommend you do!

Anyway Catherine's hives weren't quite as successful, we found two queens and marked them and carried out a swarm control. The other hives the queen decided to elude us, it was made slightly more difficult as Catherine was pretty sure one of her hives had swarmed...but didn't know which one!!

Looking for the queen.
So two queens, one swarm control and one quite 'antsy' colony of bees later we decided to call that it for the day. We will re-schedule and I will go back for another look in a few weeks.

Maybe next time I go queen marking I will remember to take the camera and get some good shots of the queens and hives!!


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Drone Brood.

One of our members has decided to change from 'standard' to 'deep' brood boxes. There are lots of pros and cons and fors and againsts both and I thin it comes down to the individual beekeeper so we aren't going to go into that right now but one thing that happens when you first switch is it means you have standard supers in a deeper box and this gives space in which the bees will draw more comb.

For reasons I maybe should know but don't really feel like refreshing my brain on right now the bees only raise drones in this bit extra and Stephen has sent a few pics of the drone comb under the frames for you to see.

Drone comb built under the frame.
Nicely modeled by stephen!!
You can clearly see in this picture the
cappings are slightly protruded
letting us know it is the larger
drone developing inside.
 You can see in the above picture that Stephen has scarped the comb off the bottom of the frames and removed it, this is a good natural varroa control as varroa, wherever possible, will go in drone cells as they are bigger and juicier. When you remover capped brood from the hive you effectively move it with the varroa still trapped inside!!

May seem like a terrible waste...but it is only drones....the drain on beehive society and besides....all is not lost

One bantam.....
two bantam....three bantam!!
It is a lovely treat for the chickens. Of course if you wanted to you could try them yourself, I am told they are full of protein and have a slightly nutty flavour. Of course as of yet I haven't tried them myself but if I ever do I will let you know.

Have you ever tried the bee larvae??

Sunday, 1 May 2016

It's never simple!

So I went round to a friends with my boss to replace some bath taps that had seized up. I know it doesn't sound much like a bee post and it isn't really but have a look at the photos and ou'll see why I'm putting them here!!

After getting the bath side off
this is what we saw.

You can see quite clearly that it's a
good size wasp nest wrapped around
the pipes under the bath.

Here is a cross section of the nest,it
always amazes me how fragile they are.

It gave me boss a real scare...he doesn't
like black and yellow buzzy things. Even
when I assured him the nest would be
empty he still wouldn't go near it and
I had to remove the nest!!

Even after the nest was knocked down
there was still plenty of clean up to do!