Bee hives update

Been a weird month, June. 

"A swarm in May is worth a load of hay. A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon. A swarm in July is not worth a fly"

These two nuclei came to me in May.  The old country saying, which refers to a "swarm" not in the buzzing around like a cloud of bastards sense, but in a movement of a new colony from an old one which you then take into a hive and cultivate, makes clear that May and  June are key months.  That is because there are more varieties of flowering plants on offer in these two months than at any other time in the summer. Before May it's blossom, if the Spring weather is good. By July it's bramble bushes and tree pollen then by August it's heather only. So May and June makes your colony strong or weak, depending on weather.

May was ok. it had a cold snap but a good long patch of warmth early on. June was warm to start then wet and cold for the best part of 3 weeks. The plants flowered then slowed down.  So I have had to feed the colonies much more than one ordinarily would. But the good news is that I have been about so have not left them hungry.

They are drinking 1.5litres of food every three days per hive. If you think about how small a bee is, that's phenomenal.  The volume is because they are developing their broods very fast. The queens are laying aggressively and the rate of birth is now exceeding the rate of decline (workers die after 7 weeks and we are 8 weeks into these colonies being hived).  There is little sign of wax moth invasion, varroa infestation etc so they are healthy. They have built out 8 or more frames of brood and will soon build out the supers and lay down honey this month.  The brood colonies in the brood boxes are really surprisingly heavy.

I have not yet marked the queens. Plan to do this on the weekend. This is where you find her, pop a queen cover over her to pin her gently onto the wax and then dot her thorax with a marker so you can find her easily. Non toxic etc.

Lots of beeage on the bramble flowers this morning as I walked to the stn.  mainly bumbles.

Muttley - how far do bees travel away from their hive? I've got a flowering bush / tree thing next to my house, and every day recently it's absolutely full of bees. The volume of the drone they all make genuinely surprised me.  I couldn't see any sort of hive in the tree itself, so am just wondering where they might be coming from. As far as I know none of my neighbours keep bees.

An advert I saw today (think it was rightmove) said a bee flaps it's wings 230 times a second.  seems a bit energetic to me.

No wonder we are suffering from a lack of bees pollinating our plants when you are encouraging thousands of them to sit around at home on their fat asses, drinking all day and night. 

Shooter.

 

a worker honey bee quite often travels up to 4 miles for food.

Mutters, when tending your beez in a back tt future style suit, how often as a percentage of that time is your IJ singing Eric the Half a Bee?

I was watching the flight path of my bees on Saturday. A truly idle moment in the sun. The dog and I had been for a walk and got down the hill and sat in the meadow. The wind was south westerly and they were taking off from the flight board into wind and across the top of the grass then over the barb wire fence and over the hedge row in a straight line, between two trees and out over a patch of open ground where they have recently cleared a Douglas Fir plantation. Because of the way the sun was shining I could see two lines going into and back from that line up into the higher ground which is wooded. I wondered what they were feeding on but they were coming back with very full leg sacs and landing with a thump on the runway.  They didn't err from this path away or back. Like watching a mini version of the Berlin Airlift.

precisely none of the time, Wang. I actually talk to them when tending to them so I cannot sing M Python songs while doing so.

I know, this is the point at which you all conclude that the quaint pastime has moved into a deeper level of psychological infirmity but hear me out.

Hive colonies are naturally distrustful of invasion. If you clonk the lid or drop a frame the tone of the hive goes from mumble mumble to WUAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH and up a dozen decibels. They are ready to fight you - you may be a bear etc.

So one way to sooth them as you disrupt the frames to check on their health is to let them hear a consistent voice alongside slow, calm, non-threatening movements. No flapping or dropping or snapping or swatting. No shouting or screaming. Just hello bees how are you today and where is your queen and how well you are all doing with your honey production and don't mind me I'm just checking things etc all in a hummingly soft voice to connote lack of threat and no volatility whatsoever.

Yes, entirely nuts. But many (most) credible bee keepers agree it's important to talk to your bees and they are less likely to go mental if you do this.

 

 

There was an interesting section on bees on Gardeners World recently. They were discussing the benefits of using a top bar hive over the more traditional standardised frames.

M7 if bees can hear one's Ij ( internal jukebox) i am surprised we have any left

 

I do love the idea of the postman walking up the gravelled drive as u are hunched over the hut in a gimp suit saying Cooochy coochy coooooooooo 

The bees are in the field by the woods. The postman does not go there. 

Never trust where a postman will go whem u r distracted m7...

Postmen in Sussex, Wang, deliver the post into the postbox.

I realise this is different to life in Surrey where a man in a van offering to pop something into a slit is a very common but entirely different occurrence.