Bee Thread

If you keep other animals for productive purposes, whether for meat, wool or bi-products, here's the area to chat. I mean, you do realise chickens are the gateway drug to other animals, don't you?

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Itsybitsy

Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 15 Mar 2010, 12:27

Sorry Slider955i, I've not been around too much to answer you.

Pleased to hear your news and hope your wife enjoyed the course.

There are quite a few bee organisations in the West Midlands, hopefully you will be able to find a mentor to help in your first tentative steps.

I'm going down to my bees in a while today to clean up a bit and maybe put a wedge of fondant on each hive.

Itsybitsy

Itsybitsy

Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 17 Mar 2010, 07:31

Yesterday I went to the bees to give them a little more fondant in case any were getting low on stores. Now is the time of year the bees can easily starve. Bood is being reared so suddenly more food is needed to help the bees keep themselves warmer (for brood rearing) and also as food for the emerging brood. I gave them 1lb each, a rather miserly amount by all accounts, the general opinion is to buy 12.5kg boxes and give each hive half a box :shock: I didn't do this for 2 reasons.
1) I only had about 9lbs left :?
2) Putting half a box on will end up with a lot of waste, the weather is warming sufficiently for thin syrup to soon be useful as a feed too.

I put them each a 1lb piece at the beginnng of February, in some cases it has been eaten, but not all, so I figure they are not in dire straights yet.

I also washed off the varroa tray inserts, this means I can watch where they are in the hive from the fresh debris dropped on the floor. I was pleased to see new pollen lumps, yellow and orange......Catkin and Snowdrop. Fresh pollen indicates brood is being reared.

Itsybitsy

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by CP » 17 Mar 2010, 09:38

:grin: That's good news then! :grin:
Happy in Hampshire!

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by slider955i » 17 Mar 2010, 18:31

sound like they are doing well 8)

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by MrsMopp » 18 Mar 2010, 11:31

Oooh - I didn't know that about the pollen being a sign of brood. I'll go and check the tray. My bees have been flying like mad in the past few days but I was worrying about what they'd be eating; a few crocuses and daffs aren't going to go far! But we have masses of hazel catkins around and about so thats encouraging. I do find your posts very helpful by the way, so thank you.

Itsybitsy

Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 08 Apr 2010, 23:11

I've been itching to get into the bees and see how they are doing, but the weather just hasn't been fit, a cold wind can soon chill the tiny brood and ruin all that work, so I've hung on and finally been rewarded.

The temerature today got to and beyond the magic 15 degrees, it was nice and sunny with a gentle breeze. So I got the kit out, lit the smoker and was away.

I'm pleased to report that all my colonies have made it through the winter. Well they'd made it a month ago, but they can starve very quickly in March as brood rearing takes off and stores dwindle, I have , when the opportunity has arisen, given them slabs of fondant. I'm a bit stingy really and only give them 1lb at a time, some of it has been eaten and some has been ignored :)

All the colonies have laying queens and all had brood, the amount varied from two frames to seven :shock: , most had a good supply of stores and only 2 gave cause for concern. One of them I poured syrup into drawn foundation for them.

The colony with 7 frames of brood needs some attention ASAP and I will be dealing with it tomorrow. I gave the matter some thought and decided I am going to run it as a double brood box.......in other words 2 brood boxes, one on top of the other. It is already full of bees and desperately needs more space. Lots of worker bees means lots of foragers when the nectar starts to flow (I hope :grin: ).

A good start to the season

Itsybitsy
Last edited by Itsybitsy on 09 Apr 2010, 08:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by nigel » 09 Apr 2010, 06:01

Miracle of miracles, Steph saw some bees yesterday.

After the worst and longest winter that locals can remember and us being under over at least 18" of snow for over three months and with temps regularly dropping to -10°C and reaching a low of -17.7°C. I am amazed that they have managed to survive. The temps are still not high enough to see what's inside there yet but I shall be adding some heavy syrup this weekend.

My young bee farmer friend who has over 2,000 hives is reporting his worst winter ever with around 60-65% losses. Some of his hives out in the woodlands have only become accessible in the last couple of weeks when the snows melted so final figures are not truly in yet. HIs losses so far are mainly starvation and complications caused by nosema apis.
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Re: Bee Thread

Post by MrsMopp » 09 Apr 2010, 08:39

2,000 hives :shock:

I was in Australia recently and got chatting to a bee farmers wife. They have just 300 hives (!) and make money by pollinating local early season almond orchards and then soft fruit orchards as well as making/selling honey and wax products. There seems to be a fashion in Oz for honey flavoured with spices (like cinnamon or vanilla) which is mixed in.

It was positively hot here yesterday (I've gone a bit red!) and will be today so we are going to open the hive as well. I can't believe the number of bees flying; clouds of them waiting to get back in.

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by nigel » 10 Apr 2010, 05:52

MrsMopp wrote:2,000 hives :shock:
I know it sounds a lot doesn't it, but this is Fredrik's only job. He does 9-10 months beefarming and then goes to Thailand for the rest of the year. What surprised me is he's only 22!
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Itsybitsy

Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 14 Apr 2010, 09:03

As I said in my last post I had decided to run hive 6 (the one with 7 frames of brood) as a double hive. My other alternative would have been to use a bigger single hive. I have been given a couple of larger hives which still use National foundation but 13 frames instead of a Nationals 11. I decided not to go that way because I could see the colony was going to grow well beyong 13 frames and I didn't want to have to use a double system with that hive because they are old and very heavy. On Sunday I kitted up again and went and put the second brood box on. As always with beeking differences of opinions occur, some say put the new brood box underneath, some say on top. I put mine on top. The queen moves upwards more naturally than down and the new brood box had clean drawn foundation and new foundation, as the season progresses, eventually the brood nest contracts the bottom one will become empty, I can remove it and any darkened old frames and re-process them. Dark old frames these days are considered a disease risk. I also put a queen excluder on the top and a super above, it's a bit early and I don't think they will put anything in it just yet, it's just given them a vast amount of space.

I didn't go again through all the hives, just gave the light one more syrup poured into foundation and found a queen in another that I hadn't been able to find.

The weather has now turned cold again. :? Drat!

Itsybitsy

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 18 Apr 2010, 19:01

Lovely day yesterday, I think the temp got to about 20. I had 2 beginners turn up, I know them from the beek forum and my local association, both are on the beginners course and don't as yet have bees.

We went through all the hives, I wanted to sweep any open mesh floors for bee debris, change the brood box and floor of another, remove the opening blocks and put in some others. I went into the winter with my very restricted ones still on as the wasps were still bad well into November, so the hive which now had a double brood box and is heaving with bees still only had a 2" entrance :shock:

One of the hives was giving me cause for concern, it has come through the winter okay, but now there just weren't enough workers in there to make it viable, the queen was fine and laying. I had two choices. I could add a frame of brood and some shook young bees* from another hive to give it a population boost, or I could squish the queen and unite it to another small colony........always a champion for the underdog I went for the first option and gave it some sealed brood and young workers from the biggest colony. Last year I did the same for my Thorne's queen as that colony was struggling early on, she went on to produce over 120lbs of surplus honey for me.

* By shook young bees I mean you take a frame with bees on and shake them off over the new hive, young bees which haven't flown will stay in the new hive, any flying bees will return to the parent hive.

Itsybitsy

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 02 May 2010, 22:16

Two weeks and two inspections later and all is well. My beginners have been turning up and are going through some hives on their own.

All the colonies are doing well. The one that was causing me some concern has turned a corner. Three hives now have a super on. The carnis in their double brood box are going on in leaps and bounds, they have been just a bit busy as their second brood box was mostly new foundation so they have had to draw it out. The queen has been laying in the freshly drawn cells and some of the brood is now sealed soon to hatch. They have not as yet put anything in their super.

I made up some queen wasp traps today. In them I used chopped banana skin, strawberry syrup, a dash of cider vinegar, a splodge of jam and water. There are lots of queen wasps about looking for a suitable nesting site. Last year the wasps caused a lot of trouble to my hives. The recipe is actually for trapping queen hornets. I have seen hornets about too so am happy to trap any of those. The recipe came from a beek in France via the beekeepers forum.

There are also a lot of queen bumble bees about looking for nest sites. I went onto the bumble bee conservation trust website and have identified three different ones buzzing about my field.

The rape fields are just about in full bloom now. I have one in sight of my field, but I think it is further away than the one last year and so far the bees haven't visited........well I haven't seen any yellow pollen coming in just yet.

Itsybitsy

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by ZacB » 03 May 2010, 07:50

Itsybitsy, thanks for the tip on the wasp traps. We get lots of queen wasps around us & have never really thought of doing this. You always over look the simply things don't you (well me anyway :? )

Itsybitsy

Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 03 May 2010, 08:48

ZacB wrote:Itsybitsy, thanks for the tip on the wasp traps. We get lots of queen wasps around us & have never really thought of doing this. You always over look the simply things don't you (well me anyway :? )
You're welcome :grin: The container/trap is made from a squash or similar bottle. Cut the top off at the shoulder before it narrows to the neck. Turn it upside down and put it back on the bottle and use parcel tape or similar to hold it in place and prevent any occupants sneaking out of gaps.

I find coke bottles too light and flimsy, although they are okay if you are going to hang them. To hang them either pierce two holes opposite each other at the top or parcel tape some string in place after you have sealed the gaps.

At the moment mine are hung up. When the wasps get bad in autumn I have the traps standing alongside the hives.

Itsybitsy

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Re: Bee Thread

Post by Itsybitsy » 10 May 2010, 09:24

The Swarm Season is upon Us

Inspecting my colony headed by the Carniolan queen yesterday and I found 2 sealed queen cells :shock: and several open but occupied. Needless to say I didn't have any spare equipment easily to hand so I broke them all down in order to give myself some time to think and organise myself. Bees will normally swarm as soon as the first cell is capped.......these probably didn't because of the bad weather, especially on Saturday. I don't particularly want to breed from the Carniolan. 1st crosses are legendary for their bad temper and I don't want to increase my colony numbers, although short term increase is easily possible followed up by a swift uniting with others. I took another frame of brood from that colony to help boost another small one and also a frame of food. These Carniolans are determined to fill every available cell in the brood boxes with honey but completely ignore the super. They did it last year as well. I have already had enough of them. It's too early for English queens to be available, but I can always get my name on a list can't I? :lol:

Itsybitsy

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