Monday, 22 June 2009

First inspection

It's been ten days since I hive the nuc so today I had my first  inspection.  A friend, Christine, also a beekeeper came and help. My wife, Gina, took the photos.

Since yesterday's excitement with the robber bees I wasn't sure what we shall find.  After the normal smoke treatment I opened the crown board. The bees were calm and going about their business. 

Last Saturday I put six new frames down. The first four frames of new foundations remained undrawn though some bees were milling around.  The fifth frames shows sign of building activities. There was even some capped honey stores. The sixth frames had definitely been worked on.  We were watching out for the queen all the time. Once we got to the nuc frames it is obvious that a lot of work has been going on. It felt much heavier then when I picked them up last weekend. Some frames were very heavy with honey and pollen. We saw a few grabs and even a new bee emerging from a cell. Because of my eye ( I saw stung on my cheek on Sunday and by now my left eye lips had closed up) I couldn't see properly to search for signs of new eggs.

On the eight frames Christine spotted the Queen bee (click on the photo to get a better view). There she was  dotted in green.  She was just busy moving around, we assumed, searching for cells to lay her eggs in. It was surprising how fast she actually moves. One minute she is on one side the frame the next minute she disappeared and reappeared on the other side.

To finished off I placed frame one, which is new, at the other end of the hive so that the bees can work on it and give the hive a more even development. We closed up and sat down for a cup of tea.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Robber Bees!

Today we had a cool start then as the day progressed the temperature climbed slowly till it became quite hot. After a morning trip away I took a casual look at the hive. There appeared to be more then the usual number of bees at the entrance. I was first puzzled then became a little concerned because of the amount of noise they were making. Someone was not very happy.

I could see many workers returning with pollen, but there were also quite a number of bees just hovering in front of the hive. Something was happening though I wasn't quite sure what. Were they too hot, or something else? I watched for a while then to my horror I saw two bees tumbling out of the entrance fighting! Robbing!  I thought. I ran into the house and jumped into my bee suit and lit the smoker. I needed to reduce the entrance. Grabbing a handful of grass I got close to the hive and after a few puffs of smoke some of the bees flew away I stuffed some grass into the entrance. Some returning workers were a bit confused by the changes and started to walk to and fro on the entrance block. After a while things seems to calm down a bit. As things had been settling down so well up till now I was a bit shocked by this sudden turn of events. 

When I looked again, a few minutes ago, things seemed to have improved a lot. The bees are getting back to their normal rhythm.  Some of the grass has been removed by the bees. I am waiting for the sun to go down so that I can do a proper job in reducing the entrance. I am thinking of using my mouse guard and tape some of the holes up. There must be more bee hives near me than I expected.

Friday, 19 June 2009


It has been very busy for me this last two weeks. This is unusual but good because 'busy' means paid work. The down side is that I have hardly any time this week to enjoy my bees. I had been rising early and spending  all day in some small spaces only merging at the end of the day with juts enough time to take a peek at the hive to make sure the bees are feed.

Since hiving my bees lat Saturday they have taken five lots of feeds (1 kg of sugar to 1 pint of warm water per feed). At first I wasn't sure if I should continue with the feed, but a kind member of my local association, Jenny, told me that I should especially with the current weather pattern over our area being so strange, and the honey flow is not brilliant.

When my bees arrived last weekend the sun was smiling and all's well with the world. If anything it was too hot. Then  came Monday and poor weather was forecasted. I was a bit worry about the bees so I went to the bottom of the garden to take a look. I stopped quite near the hive and watched the comings and goings. I must have been there for minutes when the sky darken and there were sounds of distant thunders. As the bees hadn't bother me so far I thought I was alright where I was. One lone bee (probably bothered by the sudden change in weather) decided otherwise and started to buzz me. 

It's true what people say about the different sounds that bees make. This buzz was definitely a "go away, haven't you got a home to go to" sort. It got louder and in my face. I walked away quickly. It followed me, down the garden, buzzing. Then the inevitable happened: I felt a sharp pin on my unprotected head. It must have been a 'gentle' stab because I saw it flew away. As I nursed my wound indoor the heaven opened up. It was hailing, and this is June! I still have a little lump after three days. I shall remember to wear a hat next time.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Home sweet home

Day 2: The advantage of having a hive at the bottom of the garden is ease of access. Early this morning I popped into the garden to see how the bees are doing.

We had a hot day yesterday. Over night it rained and cooled thing down a little. The air is once again warming up and some bees are already out and about. I took a quick look at the sugar feed I put in the hive yesterday. The bees are busy feeding and much of the liquid has disappeared.

I spent some minutes just observing the coming and going of the hive. I was pleased to see that some bees are returning from their foraging with pollen on their legs (see top right of photo). June can be a difficult month for bees as Spring nectar flow comes to an end. I am wondering if I should replenish the feeder today, or just leave them to fend of themselves, as should be. While I am deciding on this I am just enjoying the  the gentle humming sound of the bees, and the sight of them dancing in the early morning sun.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Bees R us!

I got up early this morning, drove to Greenwich and collected the bees. My beeman said I have to hive them today! This is not what I expected and planned. After reading a few books I thought I would have time to let them settle down in the nuc first before moving to their new home, but I could see that the nuc I am supplied with simply doesn't allow that kind of operation. The bees are either in or out!

I drove home quickly and as soon as I arrived our house was buzzing with excitement and activity. My son, Jake, quickly put his bee veil on while I got myself ready. My wife helped to make the sugar solution. We then marched into the garden and the fun really began. To keep the bees a little calmer I covered over the nuc's mesh screen with a cloth.

As soon as I opened the nuc box the bees just poured out. They were a little upset and confused, which is natural. I quickly put the frames in the brood box. I made a quick check for the queen, but didn't see her. Rather than spending time searching for her, and risk upsetting the whole colony I decided to have a proper check next time; after they had a chance to settle down. After placing the sugar feed inside I closed up the hive. A few hours later I checked and found the bees happily flying in and out the hive. I certainly hope so.

Friday, 5 June 2009

At Last!

To borrow the line from Etta James's famous song: At last my bees have come along...

I called my beeman yesterday and he confirmed that I shall have my nuc of bees in a week's time. The long wait is sort of over. I better get on and make a few deep frames, which is sitting in a box at the moment.

Meanwhile down at the bottom of my garden something interesting is happening. The small bamboo plant, which got from one of my neighbour's garden, over a year ago, has suddenly decided to shoot up. I always intended this to be the last part of the screen to my hive. Now some of the shoots have reached over 10 feet tall and once the leaves unfold the bamboo will completely screen that area. In the photo you are just see the top of my hive at the bottom right corner.

I grew up in the Far East and bamboo are considered to be lucky things: Peace and prosperities. long may it be so.