Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Here come the girls!

If I were to blog in event order then you would be looking at photographs of our recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales but I've postponed that as the girls are here!

Now I'm no beekeeper but even I guessed, on waking to a beautiful late spring morning last Thursday, that bees would be swarming. Lunch time I received a telephone call from Jamie (my bee mentor and local swarm catcher) that he was up to four swarms that day and would I like one? It's not recommended that novices take on a swarm as you don't really know anything about them. They are after all antsy teenagers who have just left home but Jamie had one particular swarm in mind for me. They were from an experienced bee keeper who wants to keep his hive numbers down and they were quite docile bees. We arranged that Jamie would get them into a nuc box with five frames and deliver them that evening.

Nuc box and exploring bees
We took all the layers off the hive just leaving the brood box and put the nuc box containing the swarm on top, the entrances only a few inches apart, so that the bees could orientate  themselves. We then left them to it until the weekend.

On Sunday Jamie came along so we could put the bees in the hive. It was a fairly straight forward operation (although I still wrestle my bee suit - surely the most unflattering garment known to man!) We took five of my frames out and replaced them with bee covered ones.

First the roof came off

Lifting the first frame of bees
Frame two
Finding the queen
We didn't want to spend too much time on the transfer as it is quite disturbing for the bees but Jamie cast an eye over them and was quite pleased at the work they were already doing at drawing out the frames.  I had seen them coming in with pollen so we suspect that the queen is already laying brood. We did spot her so we know she is safe and sound.

There was quarter an hour or so of "who's moved the front door?" but they settled down quite happily and spent the rest of the day out and about.

The new front door
They do seem to be quite passive bees, they didn't seem overly bothered by the move or by Andrew taking photographs (he was only about eight feet away).  I was gardening quite close to the hive on Monday and made sure I didn't go across the front but I was ignored.

So there you are, the girls are here and the next time I will post some holiday snaps ( I promise Margaret!).

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Bee & bathroom update

The beekeeping project has moved forward with the arrival of the hive. When I say it arrived, all the pieces did.

I had opted for a National beehive which is probably the most common design for British back garden beekeepers. Putting it together was easier than I'd thought it would be - must be all those years of Ikea flat packs!

First was the brood chamber, where the queen lays her eggs.

Mortimer supervising
Next was a super which is where the honey is stored.

Mortimer still supervising
Then the second super.

The roof was preassembled and so I was finished.

The debate is now on whether or not to paint the hive. It is cedar so will weather to a silvery colour. My friend who keeps bees has his in cream and a lot of commercial beekeepers have them in dark green, it's a slight camouflage.

A couple of days later we sat at the table making up frames. I started and Andrew joined in as he found it quite therapeutic!

Frame making
The weather was much better then the previous lesson for opening the hives so we all got quite a lot of hands on experience.

This was the first time that one of the hives had been opened this year. It was a small colony which had just had a brood box but they'd obviously been out and about collecting food as they had spread up to the roof to make honeycomb. We all had a taste and it was delicious.

Honeycomb in the roof

Whilst I've been playing with the bees Andrew has been able to spend a bit of time on the wet room. Although this photograph doesn't show it he has finished the floor

and prepped the shower end ready for tiling (which he's now started).

Next step is to get some bees and finish the tiling. Progress!