Bee Thread

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Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 12 Mar 2009, 15:14

I thought I'd start a bee thread since bees are so in the news and there is interest. I thought it could maybe be like the "Today with the Livestock" thread and so other beekeepers and wannabe beekeepers can contribute too :grin:

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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 12 Mar 2009, 15:24

Right then ---- well yesterday as it was such a nice mild day I went to my bees to have a quick look through them. I didn't want to open up the hives too much as it could chill the brood nest, but I wanted to check that all queens were laying. I took some fondant with me to feed to them as now is the time when the overwintered stores can get a bit low. It's too early in the year for the bees to be collecting nectar so if the stores are low and the queen is laying then there is a risk of them starving, they consume a lot of stores rearing young and keeping them warm.
I had two other important reasons for checking as well :- in one of the hives in autumn the queen had stopped laying (I don't know why). Worker bees only live for about 6 weeks unless they are overwintering, by now the overwintered workers would be dying so I have spent all winter expecting to loose this hive and also yesterday morning my pony had reached over and nudged the lids on all 3 hives, they weren't knocked off but I just needed to check all was well.
They were.........all 3 queens are laying so there was capped brood (soon to emerge), there are still stores but the fondant is going too (I put some on about 3 weeks ago). Pollen is being brought in when the weather is warm enough. Pollen is protein and is needed for brood rearing.
All is well. I am pleased.
I think that's enough for now

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Re: Bee Thread

Postby nigel » 14 Mar 2009, 16:32

today was the first mild - i.e over 10°C - day of the year and i saw my first sign of activity in the hives. So i know at least one of them has made it through the winter. Still a little cold to open them up but I think i'll be adding syrup next week as i imagine they're going to be hungry and there's very little around for them to forage at this time of year.
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby SkyChild » 19 Mar 2009, 16:34

Hi, I have a few questions to bee-keeping people.
How does it all work? Do you make a hive and leave it there for them to move in, or do you buy them?
Do you need to feed them extra bits and pieces as well as the nectar they forage?
Is it difficult? Is it rewarding? Do you get stung? Do you have all sorts of cartoon-like nets and masks and costumes with breathing tanks?

Sorry, just very interested in learning about these sorts of things. :grin:
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby nigel » 19 Mar 2009, 18:00

SkyChild wrote:Hi, I have a few questions to bee-keeping people.
How does it all work? Do you make a hive and leave it there for them to move in, or do you buy them?


you can do this, they are usually referred to as bait hives, people leave them in the hope of attracting a swarm, it's far simpler to buy either a nucleus hive [usually a queen some workers and sealed brood over 4-5 frames] or a full hive from an establish beekeeper

Do you need to feed them extra bits and pieces as well as the nectar they forage?


At certain times of year it is advisable to feed your bees sugar syrup this helps them build up the colony numbers in spring and to make sure they have enough stored away to survive the winter. Today for example I've been feeding my bees a syrup mix 1kg of sugar dissolved in 1 litre of water.

Is it difficult? Is it rewarding? Do you get stung? Do you have all sorts of cartoon-like nets and masks and costumes with breathing tanks?


No i don't think it's very difficult, there are some new skills to learn but i think that's the same with most new hobbies. Many local Beekeeping Societies run taster courses when you can go and experience things for yourself.

In all my years of beekeeping i have never been stung

Yes i have a beekeeping smock complete with veil making me look like someone in a hazmat suit

Image

Sorry, just very interested in learning about these sorts of things. :grin:


absolutely nothing to be sorry about, if you don't ask the question you may never know
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby SkyChild » 20 Mar 2009, 11:49

Cool!
Thank you for your reply.
I might go and have a look for a beekeeping society near me (I think there are a few because there a lots of hives around)
It seems very interesting. And I didn't mean anything offensive about the suits, I know they are practical, it just reminds me of cartoons - how one bee manages to get inside, and then the cartoon gets stung and puffs up.

How many hives do people usually keep? Or is it purely down to space and personal perference?
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby nigel » 20 Mar 2009, 14:37

SkyChild wrote:Cool!
Thank you for your reply.
I might go and have a look for a beekeeping society near me (I think there are a few because there a lots of hives around)
It seems very interesting. And I didn't mean anything offensive about the suits, I know they are practical, it just reminds me of cartoons - how one bee manages to get inside, and then the cartoon gets stung and puffs up.

How many hives do people usually keep? Or is it purely down to space and personal perference?


you can find details of local associations here

http://www.britishbee.org.uk/local_asso ... out_us.php

Most people keep at least two hives mainly because if you have problems with one you can use parts one to repair the other.
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 22 Mar 2009, 16:51

I've just come back from a holiday so today was keen to go and see how things were progressing, especially as it appears the weather has been mild.

My aim today was to remove some of the insulation I had put in the hives in autumn and also to check food stores.

In the autumn I made some insulating blocks from polystyrene and plywood, I used them to reduce the amount of space in the hive the bees needed to keep warm, I also put polystyrene in the roof immediately above the bees, so today I replaced the blocks with drawn foundation and new foundation, this will encourage the bees to work and draw the foundation out for storage and brood rearing. The fondant I put on last week is being eaten but hadn't all gone so I didn't add any more. I had also given them some pollen patty as food, that was being eaten but also not finished. I think the weather has been mild enough for them to collect their own pollen. I checked a frame from the centre of each brood nest, there were eggs, young lavae and sealed brood in each hive and also a good amount of sealed food stores from the autumn, so the fondant is an insurance policy really :grin: I am pleased with how it is going. I put the polystyrene in the roofs back on and will maybe remove that in April when the weather really warms up.
And I didn't get stung =D> I have to confess some of my bees are a little touchy and I get at least one sting every time I go and open them up. I am aiming to re-queen that hive this year.

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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 29 Mar 2009, 22:51

Having removed the insulation from inside the hives last Sunday, I have spent all week regretting doing it as the weather has turned cold again, the risk is that the bees will have to cluster tighter to keep warm and not be able to keep all the brood nest warm, however there was nothing I could do about it as I didn't want to open up the hives and risk chilling them more. The only good thing is that the hives are as they would have been all through the winter had I not made the blocks........... :?

The weather was much warmer today - well that's subjective, according to my van the temperature was the same but the wind had dropped so it was very pleasant, I didn't do anything to the hives apart from observe for a while, there were bees flying from all hives and bringing in some bright orange pollen. I think the temperature is set to rise above the magic 15c later in the week, in which case I will put some feeders on with syrup in to encourage the queens to lay.

I saw a bumble bee, bumbling around the river bank :grin:

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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 05 Apr 2009, 21:02

Well the warm weather has notched up a degree or two so today I went down and put syrup on each of the hives, had a bit of a change round too and removed the top insulation, had a quick peek inside, there is a nice amount of sealed brood, but slightly worryingly, no unsealed, but there again the weather was colder last week.

The feed of syrup is to encourage the queen to lay eggs, as it appears to the bees that there is a nectar flow on. I need them to build up numbers so when the nectar really does start to flow my bees will be able to collect and store it as honey.

Despite the fact that I treated for Varroa in the Autumn and then used Oxalic acid in January I have started seeing live mites scurrying round on the open mesh floors. Open mesh floors are a useful aid in Varroa control, the Varroa do not have a tight cling on the bees and occasionally fall off, when beekeepers used solid floors the mites just climbed back up again, but now they fall through open mesh onto a white floor where you can see them and count them and generally worry about it all :?

Beekeeping is fraught with worry..................

On the plus side I called to see a beekeeping friend and mentor on Thursday and was given a load more hive parts, I now have enough for 6 hives, so that's twice as much worry as I have now #-o

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Re: Bee Thread

Postby milkmaid » 06 Apr 2009, 07:16

:lol: :lol:
not domestic bees ,but talking to my neighbour on sat noticed over his shoulder a bumlebee flying around near the willow trees ;)
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Big D » 08 Apr 2009, 12:24

My better half has been looking into bee keeping for a while now. I'm usually completely anti-insect but i am even looking at beginner kits now :shock:

One question, and I know it depends on what sort of year its been, but how much honey would you expect to harvest from a standard National Hive? - In jars please :grin:
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby nigel » 08 Apr 2009, 16:58

Big D wrote:One question, and I know it depends on what sort of year its been, but how much honey would you expect to harvest from a standard National Hive? - In jars please :grin:


I would expect between 0 and 60 one pound jars
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Big D » 08 Apr 2009, 18:27

Thank you :-)

I take it honey production can be that volatile?
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Re: Bee Thread

Postby Itsybitsy » 08 Apr 2009, 20:13

Big D wrote:I take it honey production can be that volatile?


Yes.

I've just asked one of my mentors, he said the national average is 20lbs, which takes into account weather, loss of bees through swarming etc.

Last year I got 5lbs off 1 hive and nothing from the other 2

Itsybitsy

ps. He then went on to say that 40 - 50lbs would be hoped for with up to 100lbs from a strong colony in a good year.
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