25 June 2008

Time will tell

During the madness of jumbling up the supers and brood frames, my ultimate solution was to split the colony. Failing to think on my feet, I choose to put half of the frames in a new hive, working on the basis of creating an artificial swarm. The basic idea was to end up with one original hive (with a queen) and one new hive (with no queen).

All wonderful. Except I totally forgot to check that the 'new' colony had either queen cells or sufficiently young larvae to allow the bees to bring on a new queen.


Time will tell.

Super photo from http://www.beemaster.com/site/honeybee/qpage.htm a really useful site.

23 June 2008

“Incompetence - When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.”

Last week, after discovering larvae above the queen excluder, I took time to analyze the possible reasons: (1) two queens {one above, one below the excluder}, (2) laying workers, or (3) a queen able to wriggle through the queen excluder.

Of course, while I was busy panicking, a fourth - somewhat more probable option - totally escaped me: (4) Incompetence.
Waaaaay more likely is that during the previous inspection, I had managed to transfer the queen into the supers. The result would be that she would lay new brood above the queen excluder (which is what I found) and there would still be brood below the queen as per usual... Grrrrr.
(What's more, they may have swarmed during the week as well, although when I looked in the hive there were still *masses* of bees.)
Visit http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cushman/excludertypes.html for an excellent description of queen excluders

16 June 2008


OK, see if you can solve this one.

On Sunday, I looked through the hive with the usual objectives - enough room, queen present, stores - and with a view to taking off some honey. The hive boxes are arranged as follows (from the bottom up): brood, brood, QE, super, super, super, super.

Apart from the fact the the hive is choc-a-bloc with bees and honey, I found capped brood in *all* the supers - *and* in both of the brood boxes. What are the possible reasons for this? I figure they could be:

Two queens, one above the QE and one below

One queen, small enough to wriggle through the QE

Laying workers going bonkers because there is no queen

Plus one hideous final possibility hit me, after I had closed up the hive and gone home with puzzled expression ... I leave this up to you, gentle reader, to figure out.

10 June 2008

Last flight of the honeybee?

Einstein is alleged to have said that if the honeybee becomes extinct, then so will mankind.

In the UK, there are some 270,000 hives managed by 44,000 beekeepers (an average of about six hives each), 90 per cent of whom are amateurs. Defra thinks beekeeping contributes about £165 million a year through pollination services (£3,750 per beekeeper). Defra says 5,000 tonnes of British honey are sold yearly, worth £12 million (I make that £2,40 per kilo, or around £1.10 per lb).

In the US, around 80 per cent of the world's almonds come from the orchards of Central Valley, California - pollinated by bees. Trucks loaded with 500 hives tour the region, and the US$1.9 billion industry is almost entirely dependent on bees.

From the weekend magazine of The Guardian newspaper, 31 May 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/31/animalwelfare.environment

07 June 2008

She's in there somewhere, the minx

Complete hive inspection with the aim of finding and marking the queen, plus checking for swarm cells.

The place is groaning with sealed brood and seething with bees. I found a few small queen cell cups, but did not have time to check every frame. Although there is plenty of room in both brood and supers, I have a bad feeling about swarming.

With the hive in bits all around me, I lifted each brood frame out in turn... could I find the queen? Could I buggery. She's in there somewhere, the minx.

04 June 2008

Cradle of civilization

In many ways, Turkey is the cradle of civilization. The more I look at the Turkish beekeeping blogs, the more I realise that these guys really know about bees!

Traditional Wood Hives, Turkey

HB has left a new comment on your post "Beekeeping in a barrel": "This is a Traditinal Wood Hive. There is a lot of kind of Traditional Wood Hive in http://aricilikmuzesi.blogspot.com/"