Saturday, 26 May 2012

Mason bees are busy here at the mo - since I took this pic the bottom four holes are filled up with new mason bee eggs and sealed up to hatch this time next year.

An interesting fact I read the other day is that solitary bees are much more prolific pollinatiors than the splendid honey bee... 

This is one of Marks 'Solitary Bee Habitats' on the wall for sale at Alby Craft Centre. The buyer will get a real bargain with all those bees in residence to pollinate the garden next year!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Willow Fedges

Here is one of my 'Willow Fedges' recently planted and already showing catkins!
Have had a major clear out to open things up a bit both here in the back garden and around the apiary and have gone a bit mad with the Willow. I think it looks great though.
This Fedge is planted lattice style to recreate a permanent boundary fence/hedge between us and our neighbours. As it grows Ill trim it like any other hedge.
The bees willow is a bit different. It's two rows planted staggered which I hope to harvest useable willow from each year.
Will photograph the bees hedge later so that we can watch progress

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Bee on catkins

Was very glad to see the bees out in force this morning working the catkins. I am currently planting a Willow 'Fedge' next to some of my hives as its a great early source of pollen. I have chosen some varieties especially for the prolific catkins. Cant wait to see the results!

Friday, 9 March 2012

A happy sight

This was a happy sight today. One of my honeybees taking advantage of the beautiful warm sunshine to gather pollen. Very important for all the new brood that needs feeding.

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.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Top bar hive

Got my very own top bar hive ready to go now, just in time for any swarm that may come my way. Have had these made for the shop / website.

I've heard a few beekeepers' opinions on this style of hive and method of beekeeping and I'm really keen to get personal experience of how they work in practice, I'm sure its going to be an experience!

These hives are not aimed at major honey production like a National or WBC hive, but are a simple, bee friendly and low cost way of keeping bees.

In an ideal world everyone would have one of these in their back garden, enjoy a small honey crop, and help look after our bee population.

Watch this space for our progress!

Pheromones and an occupied queen cell

Following our earlier check on queen cell building, we were very keen to get that next 'super' on to give the bees a bit more space. First thing we saw when we opened up was this little lady fanning away like mad. There is a pheremone producing gland on the honey bee's bum called the Nasonov gland. This pheremone alerts other bees to the presence of food. Aparently bumble bees use a similar pheremone in this way.

All was looking good inside. lots of happy bees still, you can see all the lovely brood and the pollen and nectar in the cells.

Checked out one of those empty queen cells we saw last visit and lo and behold we had an occupant this time- that little white dash is a potential new queen. Welcome to swarm season!