29 July 2007


Gratifyingly, the bees are all there - not that I counted them or called them by name - and the colony seems none the worse for the move.

I did notice that in my haste I had not put the outer lifts (the boards that give the WBC hive its pleasing traditional ziggurat appearance) on properly last time. Apart from a little shimmying around, the next step is to start clearing the bees with the boards and bee escapes.

Small admission: that's what I meant to do today, and forgot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziggurat: "A ziggurat (Akkadian ziqqurrat, D-stem of zaqāru "to build on a raised area") is a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories." Nothing like a WBC hive, then.

23 July 2007

Peering in every nook and cranny

The regional bee inspector, David Rudland, pointed out during a recent visit that I had a super box where a brood box should be, and vice-versa. D'oh!

What I hadn't realised was that the spacing of frames in brood boxes and supers is different. To encourage bees to produce and store more honey, frames in supers are further apart - and muggins here had them all jumbled up.

So I swapped the boxes around. What was the topmost super is now the half-brood (above the main brood box), what was the super formerly used as a half-brood is now the first super (on top of the brood-and-a-half), and what was the first super on top of the brood-and-a-half is now the topmost super.

Got it?

Since I was moving a super-used-as-brood, I wanted to be sure that the Queen was not on or in the box when I moved it, or she would end up in the wrong place. Naturally, I couldn't find her, despite peering in every nook and cranny.

More next week when I return to insert crown boards and bee escapes so I can take off my first ever honey. I'll soon find out if the Queen is in the wrong place!

03 July 2007

How not to move a hive

Before shifting the hive from the bottom of the garden, it was time to make the girls ready for their move. Step One was to jam foam between the boxes and the outer lifts, to stop things rattling around inside. We like them to be comfy; fine upholsterer's foam.

Step One went Very Well.

Step Two was to seal the front of the hive by closing the entrance bars and then taping them in place so the bees cannot leave. Step Two went Very Badly. Even with the tape on, the bees came out through many gaps. Fellow removal man JJ was stung twice, through thick gardening gloves, the mean little buzzers.

Change of plan: stuff the hive entrance with foam, too. This *would have* gone well, except the Heavens Opened and Lo, we were Drenched, as were the bees and the sticky tape, which would now not even stick to itself, let alone a damp hive.

Imagine at this point two very, very soggy beekeepers, bits of foam and gaffer tape spread around the area, and lots of very, very annoyed bees trying to sting us big time. JJ was stung twice more.

Nasty little buggers.

We finally stuffed and taped the entrance, put a tarpaulin over the top and roped up the entire thing (and retired for a respite from the torrential downpour with occasional lightning).

Things went from wet and frustrating to downright cussed: we discovered that the hive did not fit in the van. I said, "Oh, bother." Of course, we could have measured up beforehand, but that would have been tantamount to stopping to ask for directions.

Had to unrope the whole shebang, take the lid of the hive off, and put the tarp and ropes back on, relying solely on the tarp to keep the bees in, and try again. Well, at least the hive did now fit into the van, and the bee-tight efforts *sort of* worked. Bees wriggled past the foam and tarpaulin continuously, so by the time we arrived at the apiary, we had perhaps 500 buzzing around in the van.

On the journey, a bee stung me, the bitch.

At the apiary, we cleared the ground briefly, settled the hive, unroped and unwrapped it and replaced the lid. When all else was clear, we reopened the front, and the air absolutely filled with bees. BOY, were they upset! Serves them right.

After five minutes they seemed to calm down, and we left them for the night. The new apiary is about three miles from home. They are bees. They will be fine. They are insects, without love or moral compass.

I will miss my bees.