UPDATE JUNE 2017
Two mini-nucs which can accomodate two frames of bees with a upper box containing a feeder.In this case , the feeder is a 2 litre plastic carton cut in half to fit.
BEE FEEDING LADDER This allows the bees to climb up through a tunnel from underneath in the brood box and walk down into the sugar- syrup to drink without drowning which can sometimes happen.
This box is a “Queen Castle”.In essence it is two mini-nucs in one box with a division board separating them Each side has its own entrance at opposite ends of the box and each has its own inner lid and feeding frame .I’ve attempted to incorporate anti-drown ladders in these feeding frames but I may replace them with some kind of overhead feeders eventually.The beauty of overhead feeders is that a nuc can be fed withoutout lifting the lid and disturbing the new colony too much.Bees can be very sensitive to changes like that and may “blame “their new queen .
Just to update: The bees came through a relatively mild Winter with varying degrees of success.Five hives survived intact but were much depleted .The huge hive which had produced so much honey last season was well-reduced.In all these hives it was extremely difficult to locate the unmarked queens. The older hives have long-since produced their own new queens, the daughters of the original hives having mated with the locals.Some of these hives have become “hot” and defensive, so I’m intent on gradually changing the tenor of these newer hives by replacing any queens with new marked queens whose provenance I have a better idea of.With this in mind I’ve already successfully introduced a new marked queen into a small poly – nucleus with the intention of eventually using her to breed some newer and milder daughters.Hopefully she will stay as mild-mannered as she appears to be at present. There is a large and robust hive growing over in the corner which will probably need splitting into two but the other hives are smaller and slower to grow. I combined two of them with the “newspaper” method and that appears to have worked .It’s still early in the season to judge the success or otherwise of the remaining hives but the intent is to breed some newer queens and hopefully mark them while they are easier to find in the smaaller nuclius boxes..I ‘ve been building “queen castles” or mating nucs with the intent of bringing on queens into 2-frame or 3-frame nucleus arrangements. These will be bred either from queen-cells or possibly from young, uncapped brood.
UPDATE DEC 2016
I finished this beekeeping year with five hives going into winter. Hopefully they will make it through and be ready for spring to get back to work. This year was my best year yet for honey and it was mostly down to one very vigorous hive and its queen.
This is my first honey of 2014. it was very crystallised so I had to separate the wax by heating it a little . It has the consistency of runny toffee but with a wildflower kick in the aftertaste. Really quite a robust flavour unlike anything I’ve ever tasted from a shop.I only took a few frames as I’m hoping the bees will give me some more honey later this season with two good hives but lighter and more easily extracted honey later in the season.
At the moment my bees are very active. I began the season with two strong hives and am currently running with seven hives . I initially had to make three splits when queen cells appeared in the strongest hive .Within days this strong hive split again anyway and I had to retrieve this particular split from my neighbour’s garden . I got them in a tree and collected them in a cardboard box, but in my haste forgot my boots and picked up a few stings on my ankles.That was enough excitement for one week….
Just yesterday the bees started spiralling and spinning around the hive again and I had to suit up and chase and catch another split.It’s a busy time and I had to ready new brood boxes for the e new nuclei.It was time to get more frames built …it’s going to be an interesting summer. I’ll be busy inspecting and maintaining seven hives.
UPDATE JUNE 2013
This is what happened when I was collecting a swarm of honeybees from above my head in a tree. Most of the bees dropped into my waiting box when I shook the branch , but the queen fell behind my head .That was where the remaining bees went to find her , so they clustered behind my neck leaving me helpless to reach them or shake them off. Had it not been for the assistance of my wife , I’m not sure how I could have removed them.
Last winter I lost my entire first honeybee colony. Truthfully, they didn’t grow as quickly as I had originally hoped, but they survived wasp attacks akin to the Battle of Britain and came into the autumn in seemingly good health. I can only imagine that either the extreme dampness in November or the fact that there were not enough of them to retain sufficent heat to sustain themselves caused their demise. I fed them and they were given the various required treatments but maybe there wasn’t enough forage or possibly the farmers sprayed the fields with something harmful to wildlife.
There are a lot of possible factors and bees have been dying worldwide on a large scale for some years now.In any case , every one of them died so I’m starting again. Last year I ordered another queen and nucleus. They should arrive in a day or two. Proposed delivery is the first Saturday morning in June. Fragile Planet have already been in touch with delivery details so keep those fingers crossed. Here we go again…
3RD JUNE 2011
You couldn’t make it up : Fragile Planet called yesterday to tell me my nucleus of bees were finally ready and would be with me within twentyfour hours. Little did I realise that it would be my old mate Rafferty [ the original Postman Pat!] who would drive up in his big red van and tentatively hand over the little buzzin’ box. The little critters are currently sitting on top of the hive waiting for their great installation tomorrow. It’s a beautiful day here so hopefully more will follow, as will photographic evidence when I get it organised. Nicole took these first day snaps while I was otherwise occupied! Keep watching the skies!!
2 JULY 2012:
Sometime in the first few weeks the queen left or died. I got onto Fragile Planet right away and they posted out a new queen right away. Duly installed in her little queen cage, she was introduced and released to the brood body, I checked a few days later to see if the bees had accepted her and luckily all was well. I closed up for a week and on my birthday I checked again. We managed to get some photos of her this time. She has a white spot for 2011 so she’s easy enough to find now.