Sunday 11 April 2010

Location Location Location

Or The Bees Move House..

As responsible beekeepers as well as obviously looking after our winged charges, we have to keep one eye on neighbourly relations. When we first sited the bees on the allotment there were plenty of spare plots still, especially around the bees own plot and everyone lived in harmony and our bees were welcomed. But.. situations change. Now all the spare plots are in use by families and there is even rumour of a waiting list.

Yesterday it was clear during a routine inspection of one of the hives by Steve, that the bees were starting to get a bit territorial and could potentially bother fellow gardeners. This would set back the Bee's PR machine somewhat, which we were very keen to avoid. The last thing we would wish, is for people to not feel comfortable or safe tending their plots.

We work as a team; me, Tim, Steve and Lynne with Steve's longer beekeeping experience making him Head Beekeeper. So after a long discussion - ok in the pub but still... it was decided that the bees needed to be moved to an area where they could be grumpy if they wished, but without bothering anyone not in a beesuit and equipped to deal with them. Steve and Lynne live on a farm and since farms these days are eco friendly they'd had discussions with the farmer as far back as last year about suitable places for hives. We decided to act on this kind permission and set up an apiary with all the allotment hives being moved to it in one go. Its on a quiet and private part of the farm with no public access so really out of the way.

If you want to move bees then it has to be done once they've tucked themselves up for the night but of course whilst there is light for you to see what you're doing. So we all met at the allotment at 7pm just as the temperature was starting to drop and the sun was thinking of setting.

The photos show the process but I'll explain them as we go along. First of all you have to secure the hives. Their entrances are blocked up with simple foam just to stop them coming out to see what we're up to and because no one wants a car full of bees! Then the hives are strapped up securely to prevent the various boxes from coming apart, again with disastrous results. This is the most important part of the process and its all checked very thoroughly.

Then happy that the bees are safe (and so are we) they get loaded in to cars. Luckily we all have 4wd chunky cars. This is our national hive securely in the back of my car.

Steve and Lynne loaded their two main hives in the back of their car in the same way. The only hive that was more awkward was their top bar hive. This is a different way of beekeeping - more naturalistic and the hive is on long legs which doesn't readily fit in to boot spaces. So it needed a trailer of its own and a lot of strapping!

So off we all set. Lots of careful, slow driving to their new home. Perfect nice clear evening for a tricky job. Once we got to their new site its all about reversing the process. So the hives are carefully set on to their paving slab bases and orientation is thought of. We've tried to set them so that once the bees woke up this morning they would notice instantly that their hives were facing a different direction and therefore something important had changed. Foam blocks were removed but we've left the straps on for now as being a much more rural spot, there might be danger from predators like badgers who could knock a hive over.

At last they looked settled in their new home. Its a lovely spot with pretty trees already starting to blossom.

Welcome to your new home, bees! :-)

Thursday 22 October 2009

100 years ago

Found this little story in a recent Country Life magazine and thought it might interest.

Dated Sept 25th 1909

Bee-keepers are subject to certain risks which are peculiar to the possession of their small live-stock. In their wanderings the insects are frequently irritated into stinging, and cases have arisen which show that in certain circumstances the apiarian is liable to the person who has been injured. In order to meet this liability the British Beekeepers Association has made arrangements with a firm of underwriters at Lloyds for insurance against liabilities caused by bees. The premium is at the rate of a penny per hive on the maximum number of hives kept, with a minimum of ninepence. In addition those who are not members of the British Beekeepers Association, or of its affiliated associations, are required to pay a registration fee of sixpence.

We currently pay a little more than that to insure our hives from certain diseases and public liability but it still represents good value to make sure everyone feels reassured and protected

Monday 10 August 2009

Wasps: 'they do what it says on the tin!'

This is our garden Top Bar Hive after it went queenless, and the small colony fell prey to a nearby Wasp nest.........lesson learned the hard way!

Thursday 30 July 2009

Omlet bee-hive
Looking forward to seeing this!!!!

Monday 15 June 2009

Harvest continues!

Just back from a fabulous Druidic weekend in Glastonbury, and have spent the day getting round our 7 hives. Today, we have extracted 31lbs of honey, making our total 42lbs for the year so far! We still have 2 supers to come off at some point this week, however, we're feeling pretty proud of our girls! The harvest should have been much larger, but we missed our 'window of opportunity' and found many frames crystallised. We can't complain, as it was our choice to go to the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids Summer Gathering in Glastonbury. As practising Druids, we're not in it for the money (so to speak), but more for our own personal use......and Mead of course!
For instance, today, we had our first experience of melted cut comb on toast, simply sublime! We urge everyone to do the same!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Relocation of a BumbleBee nest to our home apiary!

Short video of Steve relocating a nest of BumbleBees to our apiary. They had moved into a colleagues garden, and taken up residence in an old bird box! However, they were causing a bit of a problem for the family and, as beneficial as they are, they had to move.