Thursday, 22 March 2018


Not much to say or do! I've had bees for 42 years and I still can hardly wait for the time to open up.
Yesterday I decided to make up some frames in the workshop - but the wax foundation was so cold it kept breaking up, so I gave up.
Today, 9C but the wind is cold. A visit to the apiary told me the 5 surviving colonies are still alive - despite that sudden snow and return to Arctic conditions. Spring-cleaning is still going on. Some brave bees are out sucking up water from the moss around the hives. (They need water to dilute the honey). These are signs they're using up stores -so I need to be watchful. If feeding becomes necessary thick syrup, 1kg sugar:650ml water.
Anyway, I'll wait for the flowering currant to bloom before I take that first peek!
Happy days are just around the corner. QBuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing

Friday, 16 March 2018

Just when you think Spring has sprung.......

"Stone" colony has been busy bringing in pollen (temp. 9C)
but today the Siberian blast is back!  It's very windy and 2C so all have gone home and it's very quiet. I checked the Candypollen block (above the feeder hole in the crown board and found it full of very busy bees.
Anyway, I'm worried that the freezing Easterly wind which is blowing almost directly into the hive entrances will chill any early brood and the adults too. Tomorrow we're expecting more snow.  At the same time we need an airflow. So this is what I do under these circumstances. The mouse guards are still on, and the hollow trays shelter the entrances from strong draughts and drifting snow. This time of the year I watch the hive entrances very carefully - the bees' behaviour tells me what's going on inside without opening up and upsetting the ambient temperature.
 I won't take even a quick peek inside until the outside temperature is 12C-15C depending on the weather.
QB back into cluster 'til next week.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Bees bringing in pollen!

Friday - the snow's disappearing without floods and all 5 colonies are busy.
I've just come in from visiting the apiary. It's buzzing. 3 colonies are bringing in pollen - most likely from the crocus, aconites and snowdrops all of which have emerged undamaged from the heavy snowfall of last week.

 The aconites are also buzzing with bees. OK - only one! The others have gone home with their pollen load.
Bees on the Winter Aconites. 9C today.
Plan to give them blocks of Candypollen tomorrow if the weather holds fine and warm.
This lovely Weeping Cypress is named Gandalf.
Our favourite among  all our trees.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Spring prep.begins

The Red Colony hasn't survived.  The Q. was my favourite but quite old. I should have replaced her but in July she was laying well. The bees tried supersedure but the virgin didn't mate and they were left queenless. I tried to introduce a young mated Q (white) but by now it was getting too late in the season for the brood to build up - so not enough bees to cluster successfully.
When I discovered the few dead bees with plenty of stores I closed up the hive to prevent robbing. Yesterday, I removed all hive parts, brood comb (empty) and super(quite heavy) and took them into the workshop for a thorough inspection. Looking for signs of disease - found none - not even Nosema splodges! So - what to do?
Blowtorch all parts - into every corner after scraping off propolis. There may be spores hidden in cracks so I must be thorough! All outer parts of this WBC hive to be painted. Once this hive is cleaned and reassembled it's ready to be reused.
Every colony will be put in a cleaned hive - once the weather warms up to around 15C. QBuzzzzzz

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Another mild day - but be warned.

10C this afternoon. I've just spent a happy time watching the comings and goings in Bee City.  Two colonies bringing in pollen - so 2 Queens laying.
But I won't feed any Candypollene yet. There's no point boosting the colony into increasing their brood when a) there's very little forage b) the forecast is for some very cold weather in the next 2 weeks. (Another) good point about WBC hives - bees don't get trapped above crown board. They can join their mates by going down between the double wall of the hive. This also prevents condensation inside the hive.

Putting new candy block above feeder hole - curious workers.

I can tell where the bee cluster is by checking the cappings on the varroa tray - not disturbing them or the ambient temp. inside. QBzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, 19 February 2018

A Mild Candy Afternoon

"Stone" colony bees hard at work
Candy in fridge boxes ready for 5 hives
I feed candy and wet cappings in these boxes, turned upside-down over the feed hole in the crown board. In this way I don't need to lift the board, or place eke in the hive, and I can easily see the rate the candy is being eaten.
I'm pleased I wore my suit and veil today. Every colony, "Stone", "Silver", "Blue/red", "Moss" and "Yellow"were busy spring-cleaning. Stone and Moss were bringing in pollen (small quantities but it's a start!). I will give these two some pollen patties to help them out if the weather stays mild.
When I change the empty fridge box for a full one I often find the bees have built me an amazing beeswax sculpture. Off to make up more frames. QBzz

So this is what they've been doing this winter!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

February Check

Crocuses are in full bloom
Saturday - a fabulous Spring day. Temp. 7C - positively balmy!
Snowdrops and winter aconites trying to tempt the bees.

Today's plan is to 1) check mesh and tray for signs of dead bees and cappings. 2)clear entrance of debris/ dead bees etc. 3) heft each side of hive to assess stores.
It isn't shirt-sleeve weather so I am definitely not opening any hives unless there is evidence the bees are dead.
First - roof off as it is v. heavy.
 Results - Red hive colony has not survived. This was expected as there were too few bees and I introduced a new (mated) Q too late in the season for the colony to grow.
The other 5 colonies are thriving with plenty of stores but I think I'll give them candy or candypolline. Just to be sure!! QBzzzzzzzzzz
....then the other.

lift one side and..........