Saturday, July 30, 2005

Clearer boards

I decided to bite the bullet and extract some honey before I go on hols. So today I put clearer boards onto the two main hives. The main difficulty here is lifting off the top two supers on each hive because they are (pleasingly) so heavy with honey they are nearly unliftable.

In the course of this I annoyed a few bees, but thats tough for them. Which brings me to... how many beekeepers feel affection for their bees? I do sometimes, but not usually when I'm working with them, because they're usually doing their best to sting me. Possibly this is due to my heavy-handedness: if I was better, they would be nicer.

BTW, for those who don't know, a clearer board is a crown board with holes for "bee escapes" in it. You put it under the supers you want to clear. The bees can then go one way (down) into the hives and so in theory when, two days later, you come to remove the supers they are clear of bees entirely. In practice I find that it works, but not 100%. Sometimes it works somewhat badly, in that there are still bees up there, but the poor dears, having been deprived of water for a few days, are in apoor state anyway. How long can a bee live without water I wonder.

The photo shows my gloves and suit, and in the background the ever-handy strimmer (or "weed whacker" as the more imaginative americans call them). No, I don't have 3 hands, I have a second pair of gloves, the first one having developed the odd hole, and beekeeping with duck tape stuck over holes in gloves is scary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A 4th super for hive 1

This afternoon I finally found time to make up another 9 frames and to put the super onto "hive 1", which formerly had 3 supers on. Good. Now I'm out of spare supers. The photo shows "before".

The new super goes below the top 2 supers. I couldn't put it under the top 3, as number 3 still has brood in it from having the queen there until last week.

Hive 1 looks pretty wonky in that photo. It isn't quite that wonky in real life, though I may get round to straightening it sometime. The photo also shows that the bits beyond are rather overgrown...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Apistan and a new super

Today I put in a single Apistan strip into the number 3 hive as Lindsay recommended yesterday. Hopefully that will clear them up.

Then, after dinner, I sat on the back doorstep making up 9 frames to fill a super, with E and D watching and helping a bit. This takes... maybe half an hour. They are the sort-of self-spacing sort, but since I'm only putting 9 into a super they don't self-. Anyway, put the super into #2, only just about managing to lift off the 2 full supers to get the new one underneath.

I forgot to mention: yesterday: Lindsay was bemoaning the fact that I had borage honey coming out of my ears (so to speak) and not enough supers to put on, whereas he (who has been good and put new supers on) wasn't close enough.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Visit from the Bee Inspector

Lindsay, the bee inspector, came round. He's a good chap and last time he came, about 3-4 years ago, he rescued one of my hives for me.

Since taking off the rape at the start of june I don't think I've done anything to the bees, they've just been getting on with it.

This time he doesn't need to do too much rescuing. The hive that will now get called number 1 was a new swarm this year that I somehow got the queen in the wrong place for - she ended up in a super. Oops. Lindsay finds her for me and I get to see her for the first time, before he carefully puts her into the broodbox. Sadly I can't find my queen-marking pen in the hurry. The only other thing wrong with this hive is that its stuffed full of honey to overflowing, probably borage says L because its very pale and the wax is white.

Hive 2 - the one that overwintered - is fine, but again full. In fact we can barely lift the two supers off. L tells me to get some more supers on in a hurry. The brood box has a bit too much honey in it, so L swaps two pure-honey frames to either end, in the hope that I can replace the comb next spring.

Hive 3 is the small young swarm that I wasn't sure had a queen. It does have one now, because there is fresh brood, and a fair number of bees. But it has varroa, so I'll need to put in an apistan strip.

Last of all L gives me a new booklet on some dread mite, but since (as he says) it hasn't reached Europe let alone the UK yet so I'm not too bothered.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Hello and welcome to yet another blog by me. This one is about bees, since I'm a beekeeper. See-also I don't expect to update it too often, just when I do stuff. It probably won't be terribly interesting to anyone else, its mostly a notebook for me.