Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Swedish Deadouts

Neither of my two hives in Sweden made it through the winter. The kenyan hive in the barn had a wood shelf collapse onto it knocking off the roof and the insulation. The follower board was away from the top bars and inside all the comb had been consumed by hungry rodents.The warre hive in the beehouse looks like it was submerged in the deep snow for too long. I have been told the snow was at least a metre deep in most places which would have covered the entrance. If this was for a short amount of time I don't think it would have been a problem.But the snow was around for months and the ventilation of the hive was reduced to virtually nothing. Lots of mouldy combs(pollen) and lots of honey that I was able to salvage.These bees had plenty of stores (honey not sugar) so they did not starve. It got down to minus 30 degrees but I think it was the damp condensation with no ventilation that killed this hive. Some lessons learned about winter in Sweden and time to start from scratch here so probably not many more posts to this blog for awhile.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bee Eaters return & Thermo Bees

Exactly one year ago today on this blog I reported the return of the bee eaters from their winter in South Africa. This evening, I heard them again. I always hear them first, their chiruping sounds are very distinctive. Sure enough they are back, circling over our log cabin and taking bees in flight. How incredible that they return on exactly the same day!

My friend on Facebook and the NBN forum, Gary Fuqua from Illenois in the USA recently had a thermography assessment done on his house. Whilst the guy was there taking thermal images, he got him to take a thermal image of one of his kenyan top bar hives. Gary has kindly allowed me to reproduce the image here. It was 20 degrees F outside the hive when this was taken. You can see the large red area of the winter cluster and the 3 red entrance holes. My conclusion was that it shows the entrance holes ventilating hot(warm & moist) air out. The thermal cycle created by the cluster drives the ventilation of the hive. My theory is that if the cluster of bees dwindled to a less than 'critical mass', the thermal cycle would slow down or stop and hence the ventilation would also stop. Maybe this is this the reason that some beekeepers are seeing mould in their hives?

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Bees have company

Photo taken from my porch.

click to enlarge

The other day a lorry turned up in the field opposite my house about 200m away. They unloaded 4 lines of Layens beehives, at a guess just over 100 hives. Seems my bees will have some company. Luckily there is a good deal of forage just now, lots of spring flowers. An enquiry found that they would be moved on in June. The Vipers Bugloss has begun, lavender and rosemary keep on flowering and lots of other flowers that I have no idea what they are called. I noticed their bees coming to my bee watering pots as that is in short supply around here. There is an open spring about a mile away so they will never go without water but my water is nearer. I console myself by thinking that any virgin queens I may get with caste's may be outcrossed and gain some hybrid vigour.

Modifications to my Perone Hive

Further modifications to my Perone hive include fitting six British National top bars as 'spales' perpendicular to the combs. I nailed 3 to the top and 3 to the bottom of the intermediate brood box. This is to prevent any comb collapse during hot weather.

Here the spales are shown at 90 degrees to the comb above.

Hive complete but still no signs of swarms.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Making a Perone Box from Pallet Wood

Someone on the forum mentioned that my 88 litre version of the Perone hive is too small and that it should be 100 litres plus. I have no more British National Boxes so I decided to make one to British National sizes. This ended up with internal dimensions of 42cm x 42cm x 19cm high, therefore a further 33+ litres. My Perone box will now be a staggering 123 litres, and that is without the supers!

I took all the slats off just one side of this old cement pallet.

Denailed the slats

Cut 4 lengths of 50cm, 4 of 42 and 4 of 19cm

Screwed the bottom parts together like so.

then added the top section. I had to true the last two sides up on the table saw so they were flush with the rest.

I have given a coat of Linseed mixture and hopefully tomorrow it will sit nicely under the bottom National Brood box of my Perone bait hive.