Thursday, November 29, 2012

Should I go and buy an accelerometer?

This link is really interesting and I suppose we will all now have to go out and buy accelerometers!  There has been really serious issue with weak hives this year in the UK and so if there is a way to help ensure hives remain strong this is great! The really interesting thing however is the timing.  The researchers say they can tell 10 days in advance that a swarm is going to occur.  So at what stage in the development of a new queen is this?  Well by my reckoning if a hive swarms just before a new queen emerges then the process is identifiable at about 6 days into the development of a new queen i.e. a day or so before a queen cell is capped.

So get in and remove queen cells early if you want to stop a potential swarm!  I don't think this is particularly revolutionary as we've known removing queen cells stops swarming - so long as the queen cells are uncapped. Removing capped queen cells will not stop the process. But what could be interesting is the development of a device that can positively identify swarming behavior, without a beekeeper having to go and disturb a hive.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Blood!

I got the chance to look through my two bee hives at the botanical gardens yesterday, and I also got the chance to show them off to two potential (and wonderfully enthusiastic) new beekeepers; Megan and Shannon.

The weather was lovely - fine warm and dry and really quite unseasonable.  The bees must have thought it was late summer and behaved wonderfully. Even the queens came out to sun themselves and put on a show; I haven't seen them for ages!!! Anyway, it all looks quite well organized going into the winter and I shut up the hives feeling quite optimistic about their prospects for surviving the coming cold months.

I wish I hadn't been so complacent about the weather and had gone straight back and looked at my bees in my back garden.  I thought that the weather would hold for today, but sadly it's been windy and has rained! I'll have to hope that next weekend is fine.

Who are Megan and Shannon?  Two students from Washington University who are keen on keeping bees.  They form part of a surprisingly large group at the university who have just started to research beekeeping and who are looking into the possibility of maintaining hives on campus. They clearly brought out the best in my bees and enjoyed the chance to get up close to a hive.  It's really exciting to see such enthusiastic new people getting involved and I can't wait to see what ideas and thoughts they can bring to urban beekeeping.