Sunday, 26 June 2016

Introducing Frank...the new'bee'.

Not so long ago Grantham District were contacted by a gentleman asking about beginners courses. For his birthday he had been gifted a hive and all the gubbings to go with it and wanted to start his new venture by taking a course. Our courses run in spring but he was told all about the District and the open apiaries and meetings we hold and was really enthusiastic about taking part and becoming an associate member and then getting some bees next season. As most beekeepers know...things never go quite according to plan.

Now Frank was new to the area but became interested in bees when he had a swarm land in his garden last year and had met a local swarm collector who came to retrieve it for them.

Frank spoke to neighbours about keeping bees and one had a perfect place for him to have a hive and even a daughter who was also interested in keeping bees so it seemed everything would be set for next year, Frank would become an associate member, learn some things over the summer through open apiaries and meetings, attend the course, get some bees.

Then his neighbour had a swarm land in one of his trees and they asked Frank if he could do something about it. Well Frank already had the kit, and a hive, had seen it done once before so figured he would give it a go. Here is Frank's very first task as a beekeeper...catching a swarm!!

So Frank's days of a beekeeper began. He immediately joined our District as a full member and I have been giving him a hand and some advice when he's asked for it. Less than a month into his life as a beekeeper Frank has successfully caught and hived a cast swarm with a virgin queen. Had the queen go out on her maiden flight which proved to be successful and she is now laying across four frames in a lovely pattern with both worker and drone brood present. The bees are quite a calm swarm.

The queen has been seen, caught and marked white for the year of 2016. So far this is a text book case, it's so nice when things go exactly as the book should say. Below are a few pictures of Franks hive taken last weekend.

Bees in the feeder, Frank had only given them
fondant and I told him to give them some syrup
to help draw out the remaining frames.

Bees over five frames in the hive, they have
 drawn these from new foundation.

Comb with eggs and larvae in
different stages.

A close up of the bees.

Comb with eggs.

The first capped brood with larvae surrounding,
a wonderful example of a text book brood

The bees and their stores.
Inevitably things can and probably will go wrong but for now it is all looking great and Frank is keen to learn as much as possible. It's great to have him as a new member to the district and I hope that the rest of the year goes as well as the start.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Honey health....... Detox

Honey and herbal tea are a great
way to help detox the body.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Open Apiary at Isobels

Well the weather improved today just in time for Isobels open apiary. Just as we were getting suited up the sky cleared and the Sun shone.

We were a select few but it was a lovely couple of hours and a nice time was had by all with plenty of tea and delicious home made cakes!!

We spotted and successfully marked a queen in one of the swarms Isobel collected a few weeks ago, saw plenty of swarm cells in one hive and found wonderfully newly laid eggs in a hive that swarmed not so long ago.

Isobels hives were calm and the newbies who attended thoroughly enjoyed their experience and asked plenty of questions.

Isobel got a little camera happy so I'll just share a few with you now.

After we had finished with the hive inspections we had more tea and cake and chatted for a while longer and the bee talk was finished off nicely with a bit of a book swap!

I would like to thank Isobel for a wonderful afternoon and welcoming the new members.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Bee Swarms

A colony (or hive) of bees will eventually decide to swarm which is a very effective way of colony reproduction. The bees do this in order to increase their numbers within the world and survive. A beekeeper can control swarming in several different ways by helping the bees move artificially and is it very effective however no control can occur with ‘feral’ colonies.
A ‘feral’ colony of bees are basically some bees that have taken up residence of their own accord with no help from human hands. These bees could have taken up residence in hollow tree trunks, barns, Chimney breasts, basically anywhere they can find a cavity which suits the needs of the colony.

A swarm can seem quite an intimidating thing to the casual observer, if coming from a hive, bees will suddenly pour out of the entrance and start swirling (what seems to be erratically) in the air until about half of the bees have left the hive, in a good strong colony this may be up to 30,000 bees!

                                                                   A swarm in the air.

The combined buzz of the bees in a swarm can be loud and alarming and often sounds like a plane going over or a motorbike racing past.


Once bees have left an initial sight they will then ‘cluster’. A cluster occurs when the queen lands and this can be within 30-160 ft. of the original ‘hive’.
Bees cluster because the queen has landed and it is at this point they will then communicate to the other bees which way they will be going. Scouts will already have been out looking for suitable locations in which to re-home themselves. 

A cluster of bees in a tree.

Nest site selection.

The scout bees are the most experienced foragers in the cluster. An individual scout returning to the cluster promotes a location she has found. The more excited she is about her findings the more excitedly she dances. If she can convince other scouts to check out the location she found, they may take off, check out the proposed site and promote the site further upon their return. Several different sites may be promoted by different scouts at first. After several hours and sometimes days, slowly a favorite location emerges from this decision making process. In order for a decision to be made in a relatively short amount of time a decision will often be made when somewhere around 80% of the scouts have agreed upon a single location. When that happens, the whole cluster takes off and flies to it. A swarm may fly a kilometer or more to the scouted location. This collective decision making process is remarkably successful in identifying the most suitable new nest site and keeping the swarm intact. A good nest site has to be large enough to accommodate the swarm (about 15 liters in volume), has to be well protected from the elements, receive a certain amount of warmth from the sun and not be infested with ants.

Not another swarm?

A bee cluster can stay for as little as a few minutes or for a few days (the swarm can only survive for about three days on the honey on which they gorged themselves before leaving the hive) and whilst clustering the bees are very calm and quiet and, in the right location, can often go unnoticed by humans. (This can sometimes means that people who saw the swarm initially may thing it is a different swarm flying).
Once a cluster moves on the above behaviour of them all taking flight again is repeated and they will move to their final destination to set up their new home.

A few questions answered.

Why do they fly around in a clump?
Honey bee swarms may contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one queen.
The reason a bee swarm looks like a clump of bees, is because all of the workers are gathered around the queen, hence forming a clump.

But note, the queen is not the strongest of flyers, and so inevitably will need to rest at some point – perhaps on a branch, post or fence or other object.

Clusters usually remain stationary for an hour to a few days, depending on weather.

Do swarming bees sting?
Honey bee swarms are not highly dangerous under most circumstances. Swarming honey bees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. Further, bees away from the vicinity of their nest (offspring and food stores) are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless provoked.

Do bee hives attract swarms?
Bee hives do not ‘attract’ swarms to an area. Bees will look for a suitable home and this is where they will go to, if they pass colonised hives on the way then this is purely coincidence and the bees would not try to enter the hive of a well-established colony.

When do bees swarm?
The main swarming season for bees is May-June. Bees that are going to swarm usually depart their old ‘nest sight’ between the hours of 11:00am and 2:00pm.

What to do if you see a swarm?
If you do see a swarm of bees then a beekeeper is usually happy to come and collect it for you. On the B.B.K.A. website there is a link in which you can type your postcode and it will come up with numbers of local swarm collectors. However please be patient, swarm season is a busy time and most of the collectors are volunteers who also have day jobs.
If you are lucky enough to know a local beekeeper then if they have the spare equipment they may also be willing to help you out.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Oriel's Honey Emporium........ New Local Business opens....can you help???

We are a new venture and only started trading on 21st May.

As beekeepers ourselves we dreamt for a while of setting up an outlet,  not only to sell our own honey but honey from other local beekeepers too.
As beekeepers will know only too well, your own honey is always popular and in demand from your family, friends and neighbours.

To make the shop viable we realised that we would need to source and stock honey from further afield and so began the process of sourcing supplies from beekeepers and companies across the United Kingdom.
Our aim is simple, to promote (real) raw honey and the health benefits of eating it.

We also stock health products, again all from the hive, such as propolis ointments, throat lozenges and sprays all containing natural hive products. We also have a cosmetic range including hand and foot creams, lip balms and such like. 

Basically, everything that you can think of, we have tried to get in, including bee related gifts for both adults and children.
We may have only been trading for a few days, but we are already getting repeat customers and word is getting around about us.

We have started a loyalty card too and have just got a recycling container so that people can bring us their empty honey jars.
As time goes on, we will be having a few European honey’s in too, all, again raw and unblended.
If you are a beekeeper and would be interested in supplying some honey to us, then please feel free to contact us, either by text on 07944 445 415 or by email; 
We will get in touch with you as soon as we can.
On the other hand, if you aren't a beekeeper then we would love for you to visit the shop at;
Unit 1, Floralands Garden Centre, Catfoot Lane, Nottingham. 
and see what we have to offer!!
Oriel's Honey Emporium