Monday, 29 June 2015

Heatwave coming! 2015!!!

Take advantage of the hot weather to get that Solar Wax Extractor working.
All those bits of wax and old comb will quickly be rendered down and
cleaned in the next few days.
Still no sign of swarming prep. in any of my colonies.  Good news?...... or bad!
Think about it QBzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Good day for thorough inspection

Bees on Wisteria, May blossom and Rowan.
Great day today - good for  colony inspection - the bees will probably be plotting to swarm!
Whatever you do don't destroy Q. cells until you are sure the colony has a queen.  You could set up a nuc. to use towards the end of the season to strengthen a weak colony.
Inspection Check List -
Clean debris from board under varroa mesh.
Check stores - 1st in brood nest (pollen and honey)
                      - 2nd in supers
Prepare to add super if approx. 1/3 honey is sealed.
Check every comb in brood box - esp. sides and bottom of frames. You're looking for queen cells
or cups with royal jelly and larva.
Find Q. - easy if you marked her.  Look for eggs.  If no eggs and can't find Q. the bees could be
preparing to swarm. Not much you can do except keep an eye on them and fetch them back!!
You could try an artificial swarm if you find an uncapped Q cell.  If the Q cell is capped then most
likely they'll swarm.
Goes without saying to always keep an eye open for signs of brood disease. If in any doubt call in
your seasonal bee-inspector.
I'm off to check my hives while the sun is still shining.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Windy Saturday/Sunny Sunday

Too windy today to open the hives.  The bees will probably be in a bad mood anyway.
Most will stay at home planning the next swarming day!
I'll wait until tomorrow - bright, calm and sunny all day.
So today will be a good day to make up some new frames of foundation -
I'll put a strip of unwired wax in some ready for some cut-comb honey. This is the
favourite of local people.  The thing to remember is that the bees will need to produce
more wax.  For 1lb of wax they need to consume 10lbs of honey.  This is why comb honey
costs more to buy than liquid extracted honey. The bee's own comb is vastly superior to
foundation sheets (even the thinnest, prime quality)
Here endeth etc. etc.  More news when I have made a full inspection tomorrow.  QB

Friday, 5 June 2015

Queen Bee back from Venice

Now for some proper "beekeeping"!
Yes, we had a ride on a gondola!Add caption

 When we arrived back home the wisteria was just opening and it was literally buzzing.

Now don't mock!  Yes that is a black Northern bee. It took me a good 20mins. of
patient waiting to get this very inferior shot.

The perfume from the wisteria fills the house.On my next venture into the hives I will be counting how many brood combs have been filled - and then judge the strength of each colony - and then decide what to do next!  QB back soon.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

First Spring Inspection

Yes, it's OK to check our colonies by watching their comings and goings.
Lots of pollen, various colours, being brought in, vast quantities.  A good sign that the Q is laying - lots of little mouths to feed!
However, we've had some very warm days (eg.20C) so I took the opportunity, when they were all
too busy to notice me, to go through each colony in turn. I  changed
the floor, varroa tray, porch lift and any other lifts that need a coat of paint.  I have 5 colonies, all looking strong -  3 Green queens,
(marked) (2014) and 2 Red queens (marked) (2013). That's the good news as young, marked queens make life a whole lot easier for the hard-pressed beekeeper!***
The bad news is that every Q decided, in her regal wisdom, to lay her eggs in  the stores super.  What to do?  First I judged that each colony was strong and had enough bees to cover the brood in the super. Then I found each Q*** and moved her into the deep brood box, plonked a Q. excluder on top, and put the super with its stores and mini-brood nest on top of that.
Now, unfortunately, that hot spell has become arctic.  It would be a very bad idea to open the hives again to see the result of my ("clever manoeuvre") so now I'll just have to wait until it stops snowing and blowing. Oh dear!!

This is a flowering cherry called, ironically, "Snow in Spring".
The honeybees and bumblebees love it, but its blossom is short-lived.
Honeybees much prefer the gooseberry flowers and soon abandon the cherry when the goosegogs bloom! 

We planted this tree in memory of my sister in March 2009.
When this awful cold weather develops into a 'proper' Spring I'll let you know what has happened in my hives.

Monday, 6 April 2015

North of England Beekeepers Convention Report

Well we really enjoyed our day!  Raffle, Secret Auction, continual flow of refreshments and quite a few stalls of equipment, gifts and books to tempt us.
Susan Cobley from Washington State University gave 2 talks - "Queen Breeding" and "Queen & Drone Rearing". Both were very informative, interesting and thought-provoking.  However, QB and BrB agreed we didn't approve of some of the methods eg. the way that colonies were combined by sort of chucking several colonies into one via a metal chute.  We show more respect for our bees!
Anyway, I made copious notes - too much to report here - but some interesting facts :

Bees have highest mating rate of any insect - Q takes several mating flights; mates with 1-60 drones;
10-60m high; 10,000-25,000 drones from 200-300 colonies; each drone produces 10,000,000 sperm.
Multiple mating increases drone viability and colony fitness.

Simon Croson's talk on Beekeeping Photography was excellent and easy to understand by we amateurs.  He made a good point - that by photographing your active bees you gain a better understanding of why and how bees do what they do.
Blurred photos?  camera shake (brace your elbows on your knees) and being patient, get close to bees and don't automatically use the zoom. Well, that's me sorted out - hopefully!
Finally, red-eyes in drones may be a sign of in-breeding!

If you took your own lunch the day cost £30.  I will certainly go again next year.
QBZzzzzzzzzzzzz  Now it's a gorgeous day. I'm off to the hives with my camera! 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Don't Forget

All you Bee Buddies who can quite happily buzz on all day about honeybees.
Tomorrow 28th March is the 58th Annual Convention of the North of England Beekeepers.
"Bee Breeding and Selection" is the Colin Weightman Memorial Lecture.
QB and BrB are looking forward to the "Bee Photography" Talk.  You might find an improvement
in my pics. after this.

 These 2 Terrible Pics show honeybees in early Spring on Winter Aconites.  They were taken BEFORE the talk!!
I'll let you know how the Convention went.  QBzz

Monday, 16 March 2015

Sunday 15/3/15

Spring seemed to have sprung until today - 6C - Easterly wind.
QB checked the food situation in all 5 colonies - named White, Red, Blue, Silver, Lime.
I opened the mouseguards last week but rapidly closed them again when I found evidence
(odorous 'pee' puddles and nasty little black pellets) above the crown board in all hives
except White (much the strongest colony).
Lime and Silver have gone back into cluster and are not feeding.
The others are enjoying their candy treat and White colony has completely demolished
the Nektapol - so I have given them another block.
How to make polish + some flower pics. coming soon.
QB is struggling with her technology - AS USUAL!!!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Queen Bee's out and about!

Yep!  QB has come out of hibernation after her long winter break.
Now is the tricky part.  There's not much pollen to help feed the early larvae.
Snowdrops, crocus, winter aconites OK but willow (very polleniferous!) is only just opening.
The W/NW wind today is cold and strong.  One or two honeybees are spring-cleaning.
The good news is that all 5 colonies are alive.
But ... if the weather stays cold the bees could use all their stores and could starve.
I have put 250g of candy above each feeder hole - as a "justincase". Nektapol is useful too.
Candy with pollen in it.  However once you start feeding this you must keep on, until the
colonies are flying strongly and there is plenty of pollen around.

Looking forward to HBKA visit to Chainbridge Honey Farm on May 10th.

But there's a lot to do before then. I'll keep you posted.
Next blog next week.