Saturday, 23 May 2020

District Apiary, Hive 4

Hive 4 is a swarm that was bought over to the the district apiary last year by our chairman. they were bought over in a five frame nuc where they stayed for a few weeks before being transferred into a national wooden hive. The queen is no marked and was not spotted throughout the inspection but evidence that she was present and well is seen throughout the photos.

Lid removed and placed upside down beside the hive so
crown board/super/queen excluder can be placed down
on top and not touch the floor.

super frame

a couple of frames checked in the super to see
how well the honey stores are doing.

super removed to show the wire, wooden framed
queen excluder.

queen excluder checked for the queen before
being gently placed on top of the super.

The bees were of a good temperament but naturally
came up to see what was going on with their home.

A puff of smoke to clear the frames of bees
to make handling easier.

Here you can see larvae which I have uncapped as I have
removed the queen excluder. This hive apparently has
some top bee space which I didn't realise when I put the
excluder on...needless to say it was replaced the other
way up and the brood cleared away!!

Still some frames in the brood chamber which
haven't been drawn out.

Plenty of stores going in.

The bees were very calm.

A few play cups on some of the comb but
luckily none were 'charged'.

Plenty of capped brood in the lovely pattern
we expect to see on the frames.

A little meeting going on!!

Can you spot the drone brood??

Capped brood in the middle and outer of the frame
with eggs and larvae in between

Not empty cells....full of eggs!

Notice how in the centre of the frame its a lot darker?
This is where eggs have continually been laid. Honey
does not 'taint' the cells like moulting larvae do!

A good proportion of drone to worker brood.

Notice the blanking board laid on top of the hive?
I do this to keep the part of the hive I'm not inspecting
dark which keeps the bees down inside the hive making
it easier to handle the frames without possibly causing
 them harm.

Perfect brood pattern.

Happily going about their business.

Last frame to inspect before closing up.
Queen wasn't seen but with eggs and larvae in all stages
we know she is there and healthy. No queen cells found.
After this inspection the weather turned cold for a while halting inspections. When it did finally warm up I had work commitments so it was a couple of days before I got to the hives. That took us to to two weeks which of course is far too long...and've guessed it...lovely capped queen cells in the hive...and they have very possibly swarmed.

I did a full inspection...picked out the best looking queen cell and knocked the others sign of the queen and equally no newly laid eggs which is a good indicator that the swarm as already happened.

so I shut the colony up and will now leave them for at least three weeks to give the queen time to hatch out and mate before inspecting again.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

District Apiary Hive 2

Today I am going to share  a film with you from a few weeks ago which was taken of 'hive 2'...and I apologise in advance for the bad filming techniques!!

Below is a clip of  'Hive 2'.

Since this clip was made the weather went very cold halting inspections for a week...and then when it warmed up again due to work commitments I was a few days before I could inspect. Of course over this period the bees have been incredibly busy and started drawing out the brood box well and the queen has moved up and is now laying in the new brood box. With plenty of frames still to be drawn out I closed them up and left them to it.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Seriously Difficult Bee removal

This next post comes to us from Stewart....

So Simon Crowson contacted me regarding a report of a swarm in Buckminster so I popped over to have a look.

The wall where the bees were entering

When I got there, one look and i knew this was going to be a difficult one. A large number of bees were going into the wall of the house under some hanging tiles on a first floor extension !

The house was a rented property so I advised the family living there that removing the bees was going to be quite intrusive, I thought that they would most likely be in the flat roof void over the extension but would only be able to determine by cutting out a section of the fascia and soffit and also taking off some of the wall tiles, after which we could make a plan.

Reconnaissance visit
Once I pulled off the fascia at the side of the roof I could tell they weren’t in there and to my horror it looked like they were in the cavity of the timber framed wall....... behind the tiles and timber support lats.

After removing part of the outside of the house the
colony could be seen inside the wall

A close up of the bees visible behind
Now that we were committed there was no option but to take off a large section of the outer wall tiles, saw through all the timber lats and remove the bitumen waterproof layer. This revealed a large colony that had set up residence. As the cavity was only 5 inches wide there were only two combs but they were each about 4 foot deep !!! Either they’d been in there for a good while or there was another colony in there on the past and they’d moved in and made use of the old comb, I think it was the former but the family say they only noticed the bees for the first time a week and a half ago.
We had to cut out the wall timbers to get to the colony
We cut out the brood comb as best we could, although this was a very rough job, we then put this comb onto some empty national frames (without foundation) and secured the comb into the frame with some large bands we had made from elastic strips, it wasn’t pretty and we piled in as many bees as possible.

Bees in the box, you can see the top of the elastic bands
we’d made to hold the comb into the frames
Eventually we made up about seven or eight frames in this manner, we’ve done this several times before and so we didn’t bother rescuing comb with honey stored as it’s just too heavy and collapses when cut out.
Close up of the box and elastic supports

There were still a lot of bees flying around and trying to escape by running behind the adjoining wall tiles and cavity in several clusters, they must have thought we were two crazed lunatics intent on destroying their lovely home !

I was concerned that we may not have got the queen into the brood box as none of the bees in the box were fanning at the entrance (as sure fire way of knowing she’s in there) so  I left it on the roof above the old site hoping the remaining bees might relocate. It was a very sticky messy job so all my gear ended up in the washer.
The brood box left for the night on the roof above their old nest

The wall was a bit of a mess, one good reason to
make sure we all do our swarm controls

Bees still running away behind the wall and clustering
I returned the next morning, lots of bees were in the brood box on the roof but still loads all over around their former home, I was worried that we hadn’t got the queen, i got some more into the box but after a while any attempt at finding her or getting more bees into the box seemed hopeless so I took the brood box away, tidied up as best I. could and left, my thoughts were that if we hadn’t got the queen I’d just introduce a queen cell from one of my other colonies.
Home time
About lunchtime I received a call from the family to say all the remaining bees had flown down and landed on their lawn and were in a big clump ..... could this be the queen ?

I went over and indeed there was a bunch of bees on the lawn so I scooped them all up and popped them into a nuc upon which they started fanning furiously at the entrance to call in all the remaining bees, so this makes me think the queen was likely in this group. I waited a quarter of an hour whilst nearly all the bees went into the nuc, took it home and tipped them into the brood box with their other bees.
The next day, after rescuing the clump of bees on the lawn
where we think the queen might have been

Bees can be clearly seen fanning their entrance, this is usually
a sign the queen is inside .... after all the effort we hope so!

All bees now reunited in their new home
It’s now time to leave them for a week to get over their trauma and keep our fingers crossed that they now have their queen back, I certainly hope so as they were totally non aggressive and despite all we did to them and not using any smoke whilst cutting out and removing their home, not once did they have a pop at us so I think they would make a great colony to work with.

Fingers crossed xxxxxxxx

Monday, 4 May 2020

The Solitary Bee Hive

Oue second members installment comes from Tracey. She has been an associate member with us for a few years now and regularly attends the meetings and open apiaries. Tracey wishes to get a hive of her own in the future.

Hi, hope you are all well and staying safe from this terrible virus. I’ve been out across the fields with the dog and passed the community hives several times and notice lots of activity, I didn’t realise you’d  got a top bar hive was pleasantly surprised to see it, Can’t wait to see it in action when this is all over. I got an email  from Maxine mentioning the GBK site, I have a short video of my new solitary bee hive/hotel I got for Christmas if you’d like to use it observed some bees going in and out, only put it up a fortnight ago!! πŸ€—take care see you on the other side πŸ‘‹

Friday, 1 May 2020

Introducing The District 'Top Bar' hive.

So it was always the idea that the District Apiary would be for training and guidance purposes and with this in mind we wanted to get a few different hives in situ so members could have a look at things and make a decision for themselves. Our latest edition is a 'Top Bar' hive.
It was purchased from Hyde Hives and they were good enough to send me some pictures of the hive in the making. Hyde Hives are top horizontal hive specialists with a very low carbon footprint and use quality materials which they often source themselves right on their doorstep!!

I will share with you a few photos that were sent to me during the process of making the hive.

We've started on your topbar πŸ™‚

I'll keep you posted on the progress of the cedar....
You don't get less of a carbon footprint than this.
Most of the big hive companies use Canadian Cedar
and then kiln dry it.

A couple of nails and we're almost finished 🀣

The hive was made on site and care was taken to get everything as
the district wanted it. Matt from Hyde Hives was in constant contact asking
me for preferences on entrances/floors/observation windows etc.
Each hive can be made specifically with what you would like in mind.

The completed Hive!!

The hive was completed and we finally arranged for delivery a few weeks really is beautifully made and very sturdy. I have made a short video at the district apiary showing you  a closer look inside the top bar. I apologise in advance of you watching it for my ramblings and inferior video skills....