Monday, June 29, 2009

Swedish swarm has new home

Yesterday I quickly knocked up a warre box and floor so that I can give my new swarm more room. The Svea bait hive I baited them in neatly fits directly over a warre box with a little overhang one side and a little underhang on the adjacent side. This makes it easy, as I don't now need to make a transfer board to interleave between the two different boxes. I actually used an empty Svea hive, sat it on top of my new warre box and floor next to the swarm and simply lifted the frames from the old svea into the new. The bees were extremely gentle and had built out most of the combs in the Svea. I have not yet made a warre quilt but I will quite soon hopefully and get it on. These Svea hives are meant to have another box around them, similar to a WBC hive so are made from quite thin wood. The hot temps recently has had the bees bearding quite a lot. The setup is only temporary as I intend to make a surround for several warre hives (number yet to be decided). Here in these photos you can see the warre with empty Svea sat on top and when the transfer has just been completed. I will leave the empty box and boards by the entrance for a few hours in order for the stragglers to find their way into their new home. The new combs were full of nectar, it seems her majesty has not yet come back into lay. I am pretty sure this swarm from the size of it was a prime swarm and was not headed by a virgin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A new swarm arrives in my bait hive.

Whilst working in the garden yesterday, I thought I heard a car coming down the track to our house. I looked around and saw a cloud of bees in swarm transit coming across the front of our house. Satisfyingly, I watched them come down and take over one of my bait hives. Now I knew these were not from my one remaining hive. I only checked them last week and they were not in any position for swarming. On closer inspection, these new bees are much darker than my original bees. I examined the trajectory of the flight path on a map and I am 99% sure they are from a beekeeper known to me about 3 km away. These are the bees I mentioned last year that were reported to have very few mites. I said at the time, it would be great if I could get hold of these genetics. Photos to follow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Second Inspection.

I did my 2nd inspection of my one remaining Swedish hive this morning since getting back here at the end of April. I believe in leaving them to do their thing and any 'help' we give them actually hinders mostly. So my inspections are few and far between these days. My first inspection showed only one very small patch of brood about the size of my hand and few bees. This now has brood on several bars and very little drone brood. I saw a couple of drones on the combs but have not seen any flying yet. I managed to rid some of the old string that I had tied the combs to the top bars with last autumn. A couple of bars were crossed combed and I had to do some surgery and now have two large pieces of brood sat at the bottom of the hive under empty top bars next to the divider board. Nearly every comb had some side wall attachment which needed cutting too. Not like my Spanish blacks that never attach! I am still learning the Swedish beekeeping calendar and I suppose it will take a season or two more before I can second guess timings. Another reason to leave them to it. They know what they are doing even if I don't. I have been thinking of doing a split on this hive to make up for the one that didn't make it through the winter and to give me the backup I need. Having looked at this one, it doesn't seem a candidate for splitting yet, maybe in a month it may have caught up if we have good weather. The last two weeks have been cold and rainy so little chance for them to get going! Even though I don't inspect them often, I am always watching them at the hive entrance which is through the wall of the barn with the kenyan hive located inside the barn.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bee Shed & Solitary Bees

Well after too good and too bad weather for working, I finally managed to finish the bee shed. Only I have now decided that perhaps this is going to be my new workshop and the beeshed will be a leanto at the back of it. I have made the door but have yet to hang it. Here is the finished shed which I think turned out OK.

After finishing the shed, I had lots of little off cuts of wood and I made something I have been meaning to make for a long time out of them. A solitary bee house. Simply 4 pieces of wood screwed together for the outside frame with some attachment brackets to hold it onto the side of the shed under the eaves. Then filled with pieces of framing timber drilled with various size holes. I drilled 10mm at the bottom, then 8,6,4 & 3 on subsequent levels upwards. I have seen mason bees here and I wondering what else may take up residence. Chance to use my new cheapo macro lens maybe!

The dandelions are now mostly just clocks whereas just a couple of weeks ago they were a sea of yellow. Now given way to buttercups and lupins just starting in the hedgerows. The apple blossom now all but gone, together with the heg (Bird Cherry) given way to the Rowan. Not seen any drones yet this year but have put out two bait hives here anyway with some old comb in. These are old Swedish Svea hives with only 8 frames in each. If I catch a swarm in them, I will be able to put them directly on top of a warre box.