Monday, 9 August 2010

Preparations for new arrivals

Along with clearing out the overgrown jungle of a yard that passes as my apiary, I have been attaching thin strips of foundation wax into the recesses of the top bars, this is to encourage the bees to build the comb along the middle of the bars. We had decided one of the potential problems with the top bars was the likelihood of the comb breaking off the bar if the bar was tilted during inspection. We decided to try putting some dowel into the middle of the bars.

This was a sight that gladdened my heart this evening - a happy bunch of fanning bees in my very own top bar hive!

Its been a job but finally they're in there.

Last week we collected a swarm from a tree in Heggat and with the top bar hive ready and waiting for occupants, all looked good to go. We shook and brushed the bees into their new home, and added a shallow frame full of honey to keep them going. Conveniently, shallow frames fit the top bar hive- so as a temporary measure this is really handy. Bees all in at 9 am.

6pm they were all up the Willow tree.

Yup - they'd swarmed.

Safely regathered, we guessed that this big new box wasn't particularly homely. To get the bees to stay around we needed to give them a frame of brood. A couple of shallow frames of brood were found and the bees were popped back into the top bar hive.

A week later and all is looking good. I couldn't resist a peek to see how all was progressing. I had no idea what to expect the bees to have achieved in a week. But on removing the roof I could see 3-4 bars had now got lovely tongue shaped natural comb built from them (just where it should be) so off to a good start! I parted the bars and took out the endmost comb which had a nice array of colours of pollen. The next comb had both sealed and unsealed brood. The bees had done a good job reducing the size of the second entrance by about two thirds with propolis and seemed really laid back and happy.

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