Friday, July 14, 2017

Hot Hive!

It's been a while since I've had one of these! Fortunately I was warned in advance.

Dave tried the other day to put a bee escape on the hive under the supers but was beaten back almost before he started.

So prewarned, I tried. Two thick layers under the suit, plus taped up gloves and I was ready. I was suiting up close to the hive and it was barely 5 minutes before I was being bombed; I hadn't even started to get ready and wasn't fully dressed!

So I heavily smoked the hive - not sure if that made things better or worse! When I cracked the top of the hive I straight away had bees on me. But I managed to lift 3 supers off, put an empty one back, then the bee escape, then two full supers and then the cover - all the time repeating the mantra "keep calm, keep calm". As soon as I was done I walked off in the opposite direction of my car and through bushes. Some bees were very persistent and one even got into my veil somehow.  I think past a zip but I'll need to double check for holes!

Anyway I got away with it - no stings - but I am not really looking forward to removing the two supers now!  But I'll grin and bear it somehow!

Friday, July 7, 2017

It's Been Hectic!

A lot has happened since I last blogged- it's been nearly 2 months - a lifetime in bee terms.

So I'm not sure where to start. Last time I talked about the swarm Dave caught. This gad been Queenless so I put a frame of eggs in it. We checked in this about 4 weeks later and found no brood etc. In it.  So it appeared the bees didn't raise a Queen.  We decided that rather than do the frame of eggs thing again we'd source a mated queen instead.

We found one easily enough (from Sinah Common Honey) on Hayling Island and I went down a couple of weeks ago to pick her up. The following day (Saturday) I went to install her, but found eggs in the hive! But it looked like laying workers; multiple (2) eggs in some cells. After a call to the queen supplier he reassured me it was more likely an inexperienced queen who was not skilled at laying was present.  The sign is that eggs were at the bottom  if the cell and not on the sides. Laying workers can't reach the bottom! Anyway, could I find her? Not a chance! We looked through the hive 3 times.

What options were available? To leave the swarm alone and use the new queen in a split? Well, given the nature of our other hives (feisty would be an understatement) we were cowardly and decided to put the new queen in the hive with the inexperienced queen and let them do what they needed to do.

I came back a week later- could I find the queen? Nope! But there were lots more eggs and brood present so I conclude that this hive is well and booming! We left it not knowing which queen is in residence.  We will find out in due course.

All this time the other feisty hives are doing well - supers are filling and we're close to harvesting - but the weather and other events have betrayed us so no honey has been extracted.  But we do have plans for this weekend...

So what else could possibly happen?

Well, I caught a swarm last weekend. I got directed to a Facebook post from someone in Haslemere with a swarm in his hedge.  It's on High Lane not far from where I caught my first swarm in 2015. A small one but easy to catch.  I went over on Saturday morning picked it out of the hedge and installed it next to the other hives. Very easy indeed! And during their walk into the hive I saw the Queen! The word swarm is so misunderstood - these were perfectly behaved!

I'll check on the hive this weekend to see how they're doing!

So currently we're up to 6 hives! 3 producers (and maybe a fourth) and 2 new swarms.

Once the honey is harvested I'll treat the 4 main hives with MAQS and then pop some wireless foundation on to try to capture some heather honey!

Not sure how I'm managing to do this and work in Manchester in the week...