out apiary

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:

A bumpy start for Hive F

Submitted by will on Tue, 02/05/2017 - 14:47

I collected a new swarm today from Helen, another low intervention bee keeper who has a Top Bar Hive near the John Radcliffe Hospital. She had kindly caught them in a skep with a sheet under it. Collecting it was simple: tie up the sheet and carry it all away.

The colony from which it comes has been untreated for 2 years. Before that it was intensively managed by a keeper in Wolvercote.

I have placed it in my out-apiary in a new Commercial brood box: Hive F. I'm using frames without foundation, with only the lolly stick guides.

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.

First peek inside a hive, 2017

Submitted by will on Sat, 18/03/2017 - 12:05

There was a strong wind last night - warnings of gusts up to 40mph. Thankfully my hives remained upright. The weather was still windy when I visited Hive D this morning at 11am, but it was just about warm enough to lift the lid.

I had been concerned that the bees were too cramped in Hive D. I also found wisps of the hessian which I've used to contain the straw in the insulated box. I imagined that the bees were brimming over and chewing through the hessian.

Identifying Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Submitted by will on Thu, 09/03/2017 - 19:09

Do some of my bees have CBPV? Today I watched 5 bees at the entrance to Hive D. They were on the ground below the landing board. They weren't moving much. Two or three of them were considerably darker than I'd expect.

Could it be the weather? Perhaps these bees were just chilled. Am I a Bee Hypochondriac? Certainly I have no idea whether this hive has this disease.

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.

A double knock down during Storm Doris

Submitted by will on Fri, 24/02/2017 - 06:43

Storm Doris blue through yesterday. Two of the three hives in my out apiary where knocked over. Fortunately all had hive straps so the boxes did not separate. The stand for Hive C cracked when I righted it, but it stayed upright.

The lesson for hives in exposed positions would seem to be:

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.