Friday, 30 April 2010

Solitary bee

Yesterday sitting out in the sunshine at lunchtime we spotted this:
A bee using one of the bee boxes on display outside the shop. Thing is, this is a bumble bee box, but the bee is a solitary bee of some type.

She was entering the tube and about 3-4 mins later out she popped and flew away only to return a few mins later to repeat the performance. Intrigued as to what exactly she was up to, we peeped into the box to find she'd bunged up the end of the tube-like so.
Leaf cutter bees create cells in a long channel. They line them with cut leaves that they bring home and then lay an egg in the cell with some pollen and nectar and cap it off with more leaves. Very tidy. They repeat the process creating a line of brood in a row nose to tail (so to speak) and they hatch and nibble their way out to emerge all in order. Not quite sure how they work things out because it's a first in last out kind of thing!

We are watching this space to see if she carries on or notices the proper solitary bee habitat on the shelf next to it!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Spring cleaning

Went through the bees today and got my first sting of the year (on my thumb!)

The bees have been bringing in plenty of nectar and queen cells have been spotted in some hives locally, so we were looking to see if there was any serious intention to swarm and have a quick spring clean.

The bees were up the roof space and had built some comb in there, so in need of a super pretty quickly:

We scraped off the brace comb from on top of the frames:

A few frames in- sure enough we found a queen cell, a half hearted attempt and no egg so we carried on:

We found a couple more queen cells-just cups really. We didn’t spot the queen, but lots of sealed and unsealed brood and nectar coming in was a good sign and the bees seem pretty happy (apart form the one that got my thumb) so we were too.

Smoking the bees so they keep their heads down during the clean up!