Oxford Bees

A Hive

More wonky comb

Submitted by will on Wed, 31/05/2017 - 06:03

Hive A has delivered another super of honey. Unfortunately it is crooked and cross-combed.

The bees built the comb relatively quickly. I'm not certain why it isn't straight. Strong nectar flows induce the bees to build on several frames at once and I think this encourages straight comb.

There are a couple of options for extracting the honey. It can be cut out into plastic boxes or pressed using an apple press. Neither option returns reusable comb which is disappointing.

Sparrows

Submitted by will on Tue, 02/05/2017 - 14:09

For the second year running the Sparrows are foraging.

There were quite a few bees crawling near my home hives in a state of moribund helplessness. There was no chance that they could get to the hive entrance and even if they did I doubt whether the guards would have let them back in. Some may have been exhausted, but most either had deformed wings or paralysis. No way back.

Their distress has attracted a few sparrows who feed on them. They perch on nearby fences; they perform a fluttering swoop to grab a bee on the ground; they fly off quickly.

Hive A dropping one Varroa mite per hour

Submitted by will on Sun, 23/04/2017 - 21:40

I've been looking at the removable floor of Hive A. There is a steady fall of Varroa mites there. I checked three times and the average is about one mite falling per hour. Some were still alive; a few were clearly immature.

This rate of mite drop puts the colony at severe risk of colony collapse, according to the BeeBase document "Managing Varroa".

A tall storey

Submitted by will on Wed, 19/04/2017 - 15:03

Hive A is a little embarrassing. It got too tall. I over wintered it with a National deep box and five supers. There were reasons, of course. Now has come the time to reduce it to a sensible height.

A little about those reasons first.

Wonky Comb

Submitted by will on Wed, 19/04/2017 - 14:16

I stopped putting foundation in my hives a while ago (see Frames without foundation). Foundation seems unnecessary to the low intervention bee keeper. Its principal benefit is to make extraction and inspection easier. I outlined in the article how shallow frames can be extracted without wired foundation. Inspection is also much the same. You just have to be slower and more gentle.

Bees flying on Christmas Day

Submitted by will on Sun, 25/12/2016 - 22:18

Temperatures around 8-12C meant that the bees went out on purging flights today.

There've been some high winds lately. The temperature has been fairly cold but I've only needed gloves when cycling on a couple of mornings. I think that means > 5C for at least a fortnight. Benson's weather suggests it hasn't been down to 0C during December

Hefting

Submitted by will on Sun, 25/12/2016 - 21:54

I tried hefting a couple of days ago in my out-apiary. I haven't felt it was necessary before. Hives C and D seem well supplied. Hive B is rather light, but it was always a smaller colony.

A bee got cross when I hefted hive D. It tried to attack me but was whisked away by the strong wind of Storm Barbara. Windy.

Hive A is unlikely to need any hefting as it's massive. I haven't tried Hive E, but I ought to. It's the most likely to be in need of help.

Fear

Submitted by will on Mon, 18/07/2016 - 07:16

There are times when I'm scared of the bees.

Two of my hives contain very large colonies and, this season, they've been unhappy when I've looked inside. They've also been unhappy when I've watched from over 2 metres away - a bee will investigate and then attack. This is new behaviour from my home hive and fear is a new feeling for me.

The defensive behaviour of Hive A might be due to the time of year but I suspect that they've replaced their Queen. Her temperament should be the same as before but she may have mated with a drone with a more defensive temperament.

Bee Roar

Submitted by will on Mon, 18/07/2016 - 06:09

Hive A was roaring last night. It had been a hot day* - maybe up to 30C - so I think that they were just cooling the hive. My concern is that they may be queenless.

* hot for England. We're supposed to be temperate in every way.