Oxford Bees

Colony 05

Hive H is stable after move

Submitted by will on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 22:09

Hive H has settled in and has brood and stores.

It absconded in early August. I returned the colony to the same hive and then moved it to Headington. I put the frames to the front of the hive; fed them with Honey and made a very small entrance. This has encouraged them to produce brood and defend their entrance. I've seen lots of wasps around but none appear to have got in.

Hive B is empty

Submitted by will on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 21:27

The colony in Hive B has failed or absconded. The hive is now completely empty.

The colony has always been small. In a year they built only 5 frames of comb (on National deep frames). I thought that maybe the effort of being at height had over-stressed them so I moved the colony from the out apiary to my back garden. I placed them under an apple tree in the hope that they would recover. There is good forage and they were at ground level.

What effect does Varroa have on roof top colonies?

Submitted by will on Thu, 25/05/2017 - 07:36

Two out of the three established colonies in my roof top apiary are big and vigorous. Meanwhile Hive B has stayed small since it was caught as a swarm a year ago. Why?

I've been told that some colonies are smaller than others. The bees like it that way. I'm willing to trust the bees to right-size their colony but I'd like to understand what causes the differences. I wonder whether Varroa and its diseases might be an explanation.

Moving hives

Submitted by will on Sat, 13/05/2017 - 11:06

Last night I moved Hive E to my out-apiary and returned Hive B to my home. The move went well with no problems.

Hive E contains the feral swarm from Barton caught at the very start of August 2016. It built up strongly before Autumn and is now a vigorous colony. I wanted it to be in central Oxford where its' strength is a match for the position - lots of forage but a big climb to the roof. I wanted Hive B to be in my garden where it can quietly tick along without bothering family or neighbours.

There are dangers in moving an occupied hive:

April build up

Submitted by will on Sat, 08/04/2017 - 13:07

I visited the out-apiary today and opened the 3 hives there. There is evidence of brood, new comb and stores in all of them. There's evidence of a nectar flow, which isn't much of a surprise given that Oxford is swathed in spring blossoms.

Hive B is still relatively small but ticking along nicely. There are plenty of stores and reasonable coverage of brood. I haven't added space because there are empty frames in the brood area.

Wax Moth

Submitted by admin on Sat, 25/03/2017 - 12:08

Hive B has a wax moth problem - or they're unusually good at coping with it. I'm betting that it's a problem. I'll know when it's warm enough to have a look inside.

I have found 4 wax moth larvae on the removable floor of the hive. I've been keeping the floor clear of debris so I don't think they hatched on the floor, unless there is more debris that I can't see.

Knock down update - no visible problems in either hive

Submitted by will on Wed, 01/03/2017 - 10:47

I've been keeping an eye on the two hives which were blown over during Storm Doris.

Neither is showing any significant visible sign of damage:

  • There were no dead bees on the floor of the hive (as far as I could see).
  • The fall of wax cappings appears to be the normal.
  • Hive D had some drops of honey on the removeable hive floor, but only just enough for me to taste (yum)

I'll see in a couple of months how these hives have fared. I'm still seeking data on the peak wind speed.

Hefting Data

Submitted by will on Thu, 09/02/2017 - 13:52

I returned today to the out-apiary and hefted all 3 hives there.

I used a digital scale to weigh each side. The reading varied considerably during each heft - maybe by as much as 250g each way. I did my best to get an average reading. I think the variability must have been due to the way I was using the scale.

The results show more or less what I expected:

Bees flying in February (out apiary)

Submitted by will on Tue, 07/02/2017 - 14:52

It's a warm day today (10C-12C). The bees are flying from all 3 hives in my out apiary. Presumably they're going on purging flights. I didn't see enough activity to rule out pollen collection but it seems unlikely.

I keep the removable floor in, so I was able to see tidy mounds of chewed cappings. There were some flakes of fresh wax amongst it in hives C and D, suggesting that there has been some brood rearing. I didn't establish how much, nor whether it's going on now.

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.