Friday, January 22, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Our winter which lasted all of a couple of weeks of coolish weather and in which the bees managed to fly most days seems to be over. The almond blossom has started and we noticed these wild small white narcissus. Only about 10cm tall, white and very beautiful.

I am pretty sure the bees don't visit them

They certainly visit this one though and I don't know the name of it. It is a straggly plant with lavender coloured 4 petal flowers.

Not much to look at but the bees love it. The leaves have a kind of milky sheen to them and the leaf joins the stem. I would appreciate it if anyone recognises it letting me know it's name.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I have started making up my bait hives for the coming swarming season. My swarm season starts late February until end of April. This year, I am going to put out the usual motley crew of different boxes but I am going to add the ones that will from now on be my standard bait hive. A double warre box, set up as mentioned in my last post within the layens shell. A double warre is the perfect volume for a swarm being 36 litres. I have successfully baited swarms in 25 litre boxes but the 36 litre size will be more attractive to the scouts. The best attractant apart from volume is tempting them with some really old brood comb. I kept back some old comb just for this purpose. This one gnarly old comb was cut into two and waxed onto warre top bars. I took my time waxing these combs onto the bars using hot wax and an artist brush to make sure every adjacent cell was bonded with wax to the bar on both sides.

I repeated the waxing on a second bar.

I set the combs with the bars with a blank bar inbetween them. This is important as these combs are oddly shaped and do not match each other. This is how it looks from underneath, you can't really see the bar inbetween them but it is there.

The other tricks I use to bait swarms is to put a drop or two of Lemongrass oil in the hive to make it smell good to them. Together with the aroma of the old comb it should be irresistable. The yellow tub is a gel form of the same stuff that you smear outside the hive to give them the hint of the nice smell that is worth investigating.

My final trick is to paint white around the entrance to give a good contrast so that the scouts know exactly where to go. This really works!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More warre boxes and wax bead bars

I used the last of the wood I had brought from Sweden to make a further 3 warre boxes. I made the top bars for them from the old kenyan top bars. I can get 3 warre top bars from one kenyan top bar, so little is wasted. I have been waxing foundation starter strips into kerfs of the top bars but I thought I would try something else.

Varrex a member of the NBN forum uses an old wood glue container to bead beeswax into the kerf of top bars. I tried a year or so ago and failed miserably. It was either too hot and just run everywhere or too cool and plugged up the spout. I thought I would give it another try.

I put the glue container with broken wax chips into my homemade solar melter.

After a few attempts I got the hang of it! Tilt the bar slightly whilst pouring from the spout down the kerf rather than squeezing the bottle. Allow the molten wax to run down the kerf.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I hate waste! I think the throwaway society is one of the modern curses. I have 12 of these now redundant Layens hives just sitting around. After thinking about putting a warre inside WBC lifts, thanks to Christofer in Sweden, I wondered could I somehow use these Layens for something similar. I can and here is the plan. These Layens are one piece hives with fixed floor and roofs. I had to take the floor off two and a roof off one.

The floor is simply two boards with a central ventilation grill stapled to them.

I fixed two stout pieces of wood reclaimed from redundant kenyan hives as support feet using 8 large screws. I routed an entrance into one side of the floor.

The warre sits on the floor set back a little.

The Layens with both the roof and floor removed is set over and around the warre boxes.

The layens with just the floor removed sits upon the other layens. I screwed some cuff pieces around where they join so that no sideslip can occur.

There is room inside for a stack of exactly 4 warre boxes. Another tier could be added to bring it up to six and so on ad infinitum. There is no room for a standard warre quilt but the extra insulation in the layens roof and a square of carpet may suffice in my climate. So it seems several of my objectives have been achieved without much expenditure. The only thing missing is the aesthetics that a WBC hive has. Oh well! You can't have everything and I may still do that one day anyway.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Adam's Apiary

I was asked to provide a link to the photo I mentioned in an earlier entry about WBC hives. I have been given permission to reproduce it here. You can see that the WBC is a really nice looking hive. Not only that, but it is what everyone associates a hive to be like. I certainly think a warre would do well in this arrangement.

Click on the photo to enlarge.