Monday, 30 September 2013

Village Horticultural Show / Feeding bees

Highlight of the village social life is the local show.
There's strongly fought competition for Fell Racing, Wrestling, Border Collies, Border terriers,
Baking, Photography, flowers, veg. and of course stick-making.  QB's got a First (again) - no not getting smug about it!
There isn't a class for honey and other hive products yet but the way beekeeping is developing down this
valley I think we will soon be able to make a convincing case to the Show committee.
QB had NO HONEY left to sell at the Show this year. However B. BEE had some to spare - thank goodness. QB's  beeswax candles drew a lot of interest - but not many were sold.
Bellingham is promoting local crafts on Sat. 5th, 12th,and 19th at The Fountains (Cafe) so QB is hoping
to support Bellingham Parish Council by exhibiting the beeswax candles on 12th and 19th.
See you there? If this proves popular it could become a permanent exhibition - like The Chantry in Morpeth.
Can't finish without asking you all "Why didn't these tomatoes get First?"
Answers on a postcard please.  Second thoughts "Don't bother!"

PS. When feeding your bees with sugar syrup in a rapid feeder pour slowly to give them time to escape
from the rising level of syrup.
Also keep (for 5 years) a record of the Batch no. and Expiry date of the product.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Toad of Toad Hall or "Who's living in your nuc. box?"

Now's the time to begin planning for next year.
QB has emptied the Bee Bunker (where everything "Bee" related is stored) and doing an equipment count.
Anything perishable is being brought into the house. Eg. my working cloths are made of canvas which tends
to go mouldy when damp.
There's room for the 2 empty nucs. in the bunker but ....... look what I found when beginning to dismantle them.
So who's living in your  Hard to believe that a toad could squeeze through a bee-space.
I love toads.  Next to Honeybees toads and frogs are my favourite animals.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Feeding Time

Just back from the apiary where I have been giving each colony its first
feed of warm 2:1sugar syrup with 2.5cl of Hive Alive.
It's  important to feed late on after the bees have finished flying, and to feed all colonies at the same time.  These precautions are to reduce the risk of robbing.

How much syrup?  Well these rapid feeders hold 4 pts.
QB keeps on filling the feeders as long as the bees keep emptying them.
It's worth making a note of how often each colony is fed.  This gives me an idea of the strength of the colony and how much they have in store.
I also heft each hive regularly to get some idea of
                                                                                    the  quantity of stores 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Return from the heather

All taped up
Very heavy to lift
QB fastened the hive entrance (wing nut on heather floor) last night at dusk when the last bee came back.
It was quite cold so there weren't any stragglers. The hive was ready to be collected this morning.
The bees were not in danger of suffocation as this hive has mesh in the floor and top board.
The National hive was taped (Duck tape) to prevent any slipping of brood box or super. WBC "apiarists!" don't trust Nationals.  We got them away from the moors just before the threatened severe weather hit.
Today's temp. is 13C with a very strong westerley wind heralding heavy downpours.

Home at last and freedom for the bees. Next nice day QB will return them to their own waiting hive.
Too early to say if there is any of that delicious heather comb honey to spare but the hive was very, very
 heavy to lift.
Back to the candles and polish.  Even black Norther bees won't be working outside today!
QB Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Winter Prep. PS

The winter preparation is complete when:
- Varroa treatment is finished (Apiguard takes 4 weeks)
- An empty super box is placed on the floor beneath brood box.
- The eke is removed.
- Sugar syrup feeding is well underway.(Stop when the bees stop taking
  it down)
- Final insulation is in place on top of quilt.
- Mouseguards are fitted to entrance.
At this point my colonies have 1 empty super(to lift brood box and cluster)
1 brood box in which there may be unhatched brood which will hatch later.
1 super of stores above brood box / QX has been removed already.
1 thick layer of insulation- sacking, carpet underfelt (not rubberised).
(I do not overdo the insulation - bees are OK if cold but not if damp)
Mouseguards and minimum opening at entrance.
As I have WBC hives I think I can leave the solid wooden varroa tray in place.

Now .... on to candle and polish making using the wax which was collected in the Summer.
How to ? QB will blog instructions.
No you can't  hibernate just yet!
QB Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Final Inspection

Yesterday was too cold and wet to open the hives.
Today has been unexpectedly warm and sunny but Red hive was still not pleased
with the invasion by QB.
Anyway I managed 2 hives and hope to do 2 more tomorrow before fetching Yellow
hive back from the heather moors.

As this is the final inspection of this year I must make a good assessment of the brood nest
so I can plan for next season.
1) Brood nest : is Queen there? How many combs of brood/eggs/larvae?
    Remove Q.excluder.
    Place eke on top.  Place first Apiguard tray on top of brood frames.After 2 weeks
     remove tray and add a fresh one.
2)  Super : select super with most stores.(By now as I have removed any sealed honey)
      If there is a super of "wet comb" put clearer board below to remove in 2-3 days time.
      If only one super with stores, place feeder board on top without the Porter escapes.
      Place empty rapid feeder on top ready to add 2:1 sugar syrup.
      Don't fill yet. Wait until dusk and feed all colonies at the same time.
3)   Place plain papers below mesh floor in varroa tray ready to monitor drop
      after 2 weeks with first Apiguard treatment.
NB If there is definitely no queen in a colony I must decide which colony to combine it with,
       and do it before Apiguard or feeding.
Well that's about it I think.  Hope for decent weather tomorrow so I can finish inspecting
 the other 2 hives (Blue and miniblue)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


How about this idea for a new series  'specially  for honey bees on their own channel -
"Strictly Come Waggle Dancing"?

Tomorrow - QB starts to tuck them all up for the Winter.
Some tried and tested things to do.
Meanwhile mix that sugar syrup 2lbs white granulated sugar in 1 pint of hot water.
Keep stirring until dissolved and let cool.
It is important to feed all colonies at the same time; best done in the evening.
These precautions prevent the risk of robbing between colonies. A robbing frenzy
is not a pretty sight and (almost) impossible to stop.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Honey crop

Well this is what I was toiling over yesterday ("Centrifugal force is OK but...)

This honey is awaiting delivery to a local shop, all correctly labelled and with a lot no. too.
Much of this honey has been left in the combs because it was too thick to extract!
QB has kindly returned it to Red hive as "wet comb" to be licked clean and dry by
those workers who gave me such a bad time.  They will transfer it into their winter stores.
Notice the dark colour of the honey compared to the pale gold of the earlier crop at the back.
The dark honey poured thicker as if it contained ling.  The taste is much stronger - less delicate
than the lighter coloured. Still both delicious in their own distinctive way.
This year each colony has yielded on average 36kg (73lbs) of surplus honey.
QB makes sure each colony has a full super + whatever is stored in the brood nest.
To ensure there are enough stores to last an unusually long winter and late spring I am now
about to feed them 2:1 sugar syrup as well.  Yes "Belt & braces"!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Centrifugal force is OK but.....

QB lifted 2 supers from Red hive last night.  The clearer  board had only been on for 24hrs, but
the bees had left both supers and were busy humming away in the brood nest and super above it.
Goodness knows what flowers they had visited but the honey in these 2 supers is very, very difficult
to spin out - despite the help of centrifugal force.  Remind me to save up some "honey money" to buy
an electric extractor!!  The honey could be Ling mixed in with something else. Anyway it is highly
So I'm taking a break for a last look around the garden - this is forecast to be the last hot sunny daybefore the cooler weather of Autumn sets in ....

and look what I found.  The honey bees have found this gorgeous, scented rose at last (I think it's called "Ballerina")

The Peacock butterflies are supping nectar from this Buddleia, unrollong
their long probosces, clear to see.

I counted at least 20 on the flowers and fluttering in the warm air.
A beautiful sight sihouetted against the blue of this late-summer sky.
What a lovely memory to brighten up the forthcoming dark winter days.
Anyway back to "spinning".  QB ZZZ

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

September - QUEEN CELLS?

QB has just retreated from Red hive with a mass of very cross bees intent on inflicting
some damage! Sat under the shady branches of a very large Fir tree for 10mins.
Red hive has a blue-marked queen (2010) and I was inspecting the brood box to decide
whether to leave her in charge over the winter or set her up in a Nuc. and combine the colony
with Miniblue.
I saw the blue-queen laying eggs. There was sealed brood on 5 frames but it was patchy.
I found 3 large, sealed queen cells hanging from the top bars of 2 frames.
By this time my normally gentle bees had worked themselves up into quite a lather!!
So I popped an empty super with drawn comb above the QX and put the very heavy supers
above a clearer board and left in a hurry.
You can't plan clearly with all that going on so now  I'm sitting in the cool of the house and doing a bit
of thinking.
What to do next?
Here, King Bee says leave them alone because "They know what they're doing".
All Comments will be gratefully received.