Sunday, 21 October 2012

Bees think it's Summer!

What a lovely day - sunny and warm after a cold, misty start.
Far too good to sit in and read the Sunday papers.  They'll have
to wait!
All hives, Blue, Red, Yellow and Silver have loads of bees literally
hurtling in and out.  Because the entrance to each hive is only one-bee
width now to stop robbing and mice the bees are queueing up to get in.
When they come out the fly fast in a big upward spiral before shooting off.
Where to??  Well the Michaelmas Daisy bushes are teeming with honey bees,
bluebottles, hover flies, small furry bumblebees, and some wasps.  The noise
of contented buzzing is very loud.  More than I've heard all Summer.
Unfortunately the flight path from the hives crosses the washing on the line.
So QB needs to duck out of the way now and again!
More Syrup is mixed ready for feeding tonight.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Indian last?

When the fog and mist finally cleared today I went out into the veg. garden.
One of the few successes this year has been (unexpectedly) the carrot crop.
 They need digging now as I am noticing some mouse-nibbly holes in them.
The sun was warm and the birds were singing and, guess what?  The borders were
buzzing - yes - the honey bees were out again!  There's not much for them but does
that deter them?  Oh no!!  Globe Thistle, perennial and annual Rudbeckia, thyme, lemon
balm - well quite a lot really.  Every hive was sending out workers to forage.
This means that the winter stores will be being used - so they'll need some syrup feed
Mustn't forget to put rocks on the hive roofs to stop the badgers getting in.  Yes there has
been evidence of regular nightly visits -- Stiff black & white hairs in the trays below the
brood boxes; long claw scratch marks across the landing platforms; paw prints in the mud on the path.  Badgers can do a lot of damage in their search for honey comb.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

An unusual request

Our good friend Ga - bee from Germany came to stay.
The bees are still storing honey(from the sugar syrup we feed to them).
Ga-bee asked if she could come and feed the bees with me.  I've never
had such a request before.  Specially unexpected as it was pouring with
rain and nearly dark.  This is the best time of day to feed as there is less
chance of other colonies robbing the hives with the fresh, warm syrup.
Anyway, she fed the Blue hive - remember they are a bit later than Red,
Yellow and Silver as they have been out foraging on the heather moors.
We stood and watched and listened to the busy workers as they gorged
on the warm syrup. Gaby was as fascinated as I always am.

The house is scented with the soft sweet smell of beeswax this week.
I am making candles to sell at Christmas.
Queen Bee will be hibernating very soon.  Look out for a lovely poem
from "The Bees" by Carol Ann Duffy.  That will be my signing off till
next Spring.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Oh, my!!  The weather is cold enough for those pesky little
mice to be looking into the hives for warmth.
Just checked the hives again - one more trapped mouse.
Add this to the 16 caught nibbling at the baby brussel sprouts
and you can see the size of our problem.


Monday, 8 October 2012

The Garden's Buzzing!

Interestingly two colonies have stopped taking syrup
and two are still sipping and storing.  Now the interesting part
is that the two which have stopped feeding have mouse nests
in the top of their hives but the two which are still feeding have no mice.
QB assumes that mice only dare enter if the colony is clustering.  Then
the mice can sneak in because there will be no guards at the entrance. 
Last night we had the heaviest frost of the season.
Almost all the flowers died overnight except for a few cosmos, nasturtiums
and rudbeckia.  And yet the garden is buzzing today.  The sun is bright and
still has some warmth in it.
I think these black northern bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) are the toughest of all
the species.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Lovely sunny day today but temp. only 12C.  Tough Northern
black bees are not deterred and have been foraging for winter stores.
Cosmos and rudbeckia and a late budleia (wrong sp.?) have been most
attractive today.
We have done a varroa mite count after putting a thymol paste into each
hive.  Each colony averaged just 1 dead mite/day.  So there's nothing to
worry about - unless the mites have become resistant to the treatment!
Very unlikely- let's think positive!
Two hives are showing evidence of mice making nests above the top
boards.  They use shredded insulation material (sacking and carpet
underfelt).  We need to catch them in humane traps and release them
a long way away.  If we leave them the mice may venture into the brood nest
as the weather gets colder and the bees cluster.   They cause a lot of damage
as they gnaw at the wax combs.  If the bees become active they may sting the
mice to death but the comb damage will have already been done.

Monday, 1 October 2012


All the colonies have been active today. It has been warmer.
Bees have been out on the platforms pushing out drones
and repelling robbers.  There are a lot of tiny furry bodies
strewed around.  We are still feeding them with sugar syrup
but this is done at dusk (I have just come back in) so they can
get to work moving it into the combs overnight.  This should
reduce robbing by other bees and wasps.
I also did a count of the dead varroa mites on the trays beneath
the hive floor.  The average across all colonies was 1 mite per day.
Nothing to worry about.  The colonies are well set to survive the winter.
The critical factor now is if there is enough food stored to last them the
winter and also if they can reach the stores when they are clustering.
So many "ifs" and "buts" and "what ifs"!!!