Oxford Bees

out apiary

All central hives appear to be well

Submitted by will on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 05:38

I've been visiting the hives in central Oxford every couple of weeks. There is still evidence of activity on the base board in all 6 hives (chewed cappings; dead Varroa; etc). I believe that they're all still alive and ok.

There are causes for concern though. All the hives have visible numbers of dead bees at their entrances. I don't know whether these were healthy bees which were stranded during cold weather or whether they were virus infected bees which crawled out of the hive. I presume the latter.

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The first Wasp

Submitted by will on Sat, 01/06/2019 - 15:00

I saw the first worker wasp of the season. She was hovering near Colony 1.

Earlier this season we saw a lot of Queen wasps. This suggests that it may be a waspy year. There have also been lots of aphids for the wasps to feed on. Wasps require mostly protein early in the seasons which they use to feed their brood. They switch increasingly to needing sugar during the season, which is why they try to rob honey bee colonies.

Welcome to Colony 16

Submitted by will on Thu, 23/05/2019 - 21:53

I received a call at lunchtime today that there was a swarm settled in Portland Rd, Summertown, Oxford. I went immediately.

The swarm was big. It was in the lower branches of an apple tree where it hung over a fence. I borrowed a ladder and just knocked the bulk of the swarm into the box and waited while they got organised. In went the remainder. Boxed.

Collecting could hardly have been quicker or easier. From phone call to me leaving with a box of bees was only just over an hour. Quick work given that I must have taken 30 minutes just to get there.

November weather

Submitted by will on Fri, 30/11/2018 - 07:44

It's been windy and rainy recently. I checked yesterday on the 3 colonies in my out apiary. They're all upright (which is nice) and ticking over. There is evidence of brood emerging, with lots of Varroa mixed into the chewed cappings. The cold spring must have knocked back the Varroa but they built up again in the Autumn.

So far, so fine.

Wasps everywhere but none appear to be getting inside

Submitted by will on Sun, 05/08/2018 - 06:36

My hives are surrounded by at least half a dozen wasps which want to rob them. They zig-zag in front of the entrance; they crawl in under the Varroa screen; they wait at the edges and drink from the water tray. They want the honey but they can't get in.

All of the hives in central Oxford have small doors and strong guards. Three of the four have at least 20 bees visible on the outside of the hive entrance. One hive had fewer visible but appeared to be just as effective at guarding.

Colony 11 arrives in a Nucleus

Submitted by will on Thu, 24/05/2018 - 06:50

Colony 11 appears to be a feral colony which was forced out of a roof by building work. It was collected by a member of my bee group and put into a nucleus box. Unfortunately the colony was behaving very aggressively so she gave it up.

I collected the colony last night in its nuc' box. As I gently wheeled it on the back of my bike I could smell the alarm pheromones coming from the ventilation on the top of the box.

When I arrived at my out-apiary I moved the hive box from the stand where Hive C was positioned. I then placed the nuc' on top and went home.

1st Feb 2018 -- all hives in the out apiary showing signs of activity

Submitted by will on Fri, 02/02/2018 - 14:00

It's cold, so there isn't much to see at the hives. I'm still keeping an eye on the colonies by inspecting the removable base boards.

All the hives (C, D, E, F, G) are showing evidence that they're uncapping honey and eating it. There are some darker cappings which indicates that brood may be hatching. The colour of the wax suggests that it is from brood comb but the cause is not certain. They might be tidying or repairing damage. Midwinter brood is more common than some literature suggests so I'd be confident that they're still rearing.

Hive E appears to be alive after knock down

Submitted by will on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 19:17

I checked on Hive E today. There was evidence of uncapping which suggests that the bees are still alive. There was also some small pieces of broken comb which is unsurprising following a knock down. One unexpected find was a wax moth larva.

All the other hives in my out-apiary are showing evidence of recent uncapping. I assume that they're ok