Sunday, August 14, 2016

Preparing for Mite Counts

I returned from holiday to take a look through the bees.  Just to get a feel for what might have been happening over the past two weeks or so. This is what I found...  the Plan...

Hive 2 looks like there is no Queen present - there is little brood.  So, should I take a frame from the swarm hive (Hive 3), which is temperamental, and put it in one of the supers?  I have no idea why this production hive would have lost a queen but I'll give it a week just to see if she's been taking a break!

The swarm hive (Hive 4) that had difficulties earlier this season seems in good shape now.  The single super is pretty full and is mostly capped.  I'm thinking to move a couple of empty or part full supers from Hive 2 over to this one. There seems to be sufficient space in the single deep, so that's okay.

I took the opportunity to put an open mesh floor in this hive and added some sticky boards to both Hive 2 and 4. I will do a mite count next Friday.  I hope that the recent broodless periods in these hives will mean there's currently a low count.

I have no plans to inspect the swarm hive (Hive 3), other than maybe take some eggs from that and put it into Hive 2.

No inspection was carried out on Hive 1 but Dave said that his hive appears to have a Queen present; at least he said he saw uncapped larvae.  As I put a frame of eggs and a queen cell in here more than 10 days ago I think we may have a new queen. So again no need to look at that; perhaps the end of next week.

So, I think next Friday, I will reduce the number of supers on Hive 2 and move them to Hive 4 and transfer a frame of eggs from a super in Hive 3 (the Swarm hive) to Hive 2.

We will also check Dave's hive for the presence of a queen.

Jars and Labels

I had some fun playing with labels; clear labels this time - I've not used these before.

As ever my trademark bee design (actually it's my wife's artwork) is on the label, but this time I've tried to comply with EU labeling regulations.  This proved more of a challenge than I expected. Squeezing all the required data on a small label is tricky.  Still, I think it looks good!

I think clear labels work really well with the set honey but I'm not so convinced about them on the clear honey.  There's too much backlight coming through the honey. I need some contrast so next time I think jars of clear honey will be on white labels.

Oh!  I also put the honey to good use...  A Bees Knees...

2 oz gin,
3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey to water)
1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and pour into your favourite bee glass!

Majorcan Honey

No, I didn't have a holiday romance but I did find some lovely honey in Pollença in Mallorca.

The vendor was not the bee keeper but she did have lots of different types of honey on offer; almond,  orange, lavender, mountain and wildflower, I think - all from the same beekeeper.

The Almond honey was very interesting and had a very strong taste of almond.  But I have to say I didn't like it much. Instead I walked out with some very dark strong flavoured mountain honey.

It's going to be interesting to compare that with my own honey and some that I still have from America.
Mallorcan Mountain Honey

Second Flow

So, just before I went away on holiday (29th July) I managed to take off and extract the remaining honey from the single hive; Hive 2.

In total I got 23 kgs (51 lbs) of honey from this hive which I think is very good considering it was its first year in production.

I've "jarred" the first batch and the second batch of honey separately; it is quite different in colour. I even made some set honey, although to my regret I used cheap supermarket honey as the "starter" seed honey; not next time.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Nice Surprise

I had planned, yesterday, to simply remove the "full" super I knew I had.  I had also some sketchy plans with Dave to do some inspections on the other hives and so we arranged to meet late morning.

To my surprise Dave had managed to find space and the equipment to extract the honey from the super, so while I removed frames he removed the cappings and extracted what I think is in the order of 8kgs (18lbs) of honey.

To my surprise the other two supers on the hive have also filled in the course of the last week.  I reckon there has been a nectar flow from local Lime trees so hopefully there's another fifteen kilos or more to come in; all very nice.  It will be interesting to see the difference between the two extracted honeys.  I think lime honey is quite light; yesterdays harvest was quite amber and strong in taste, but still very pleasant.

Apart form the extraction I took a look through 3 of the 4 hives.

Hive 1:  I found a frame of eggs in Hive 2 and donated this to Dave's hive.  Hopefully there will be some suitable eggs for the bees to make a new queen from.  If not, Dave said he might buy in a new queen. There is some honey in the supers, not as much as I would have hoped for, but with the Lime trees blooming there is hope these will fill as well.

Hive 2: We will remove the remaining two supers from this hive next week.  Otherwise, it appears to be in good shape.  I didn't go through it in great depth.

Hive 4: I didn't look at this hive.  It was recovering well from the poor state it was in about 6 weeks ago.  I'll take a closer look next weekend.

Hive 3: Dave told me this hive swarmed in the week.  But there were so may bees in it I'm not too sure this really can be the case. I nevertheless attempted to go through the supers to reorganize them; I had planned to put frames of honey in one super and brood in another and separate the two with a Queen Excluder.  But there was so much brood in the supers and so many agitated bees I left them alone.

I'm fairly sure they will swarm in the week (or by next weekend) as there were several capped Queen Cells present.  Either way, a reduction in bees might not be such a bad thing.  If they have swarmed by the weekend I may go through and try to remove some remaining Queen Cells to try and stop
further cast swarms.  One idea we had was to put the remaining QCs in Hive 1.  We shall see what happens and decide on a course of action next weekend.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Queens still missing but Supers are coming...

So Dave's hive didn't have a queen in it and it therefore remains broodless, which is a bit annoying. Dave will hopefully find a frame of eggs to donate to the hive later this week and we'll start all over again!

And we're not quite there with removing the supers but we did at least put a bee escape under the full super yesterday!  Dave will take this off in the week - getting quite excited now! I reckon we'll have about 30lbs.

And we also had a little extra help this Friday from Rob.  I think he's a little bored at home. Too much time on his hands after completing his exams!  Still I'm Not complaining.  It was nice to have him come along.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Alternative Universes!

This may be the first time I've blogged about wasps!  But I was asked by my Dad to look in his attic as he thought there might be a wasps nest up there!

Yep!  Found it!  What a beauty!

Lots of brood coming along too!