Second Swarm

I had a call from mum as I was at work today that there was a new swarm that had landed on one of the pear trees near the garden. So I called Kieran and he headed over to the farm to try and catch this new colony.

The swarm had very unhelpfully landed on the trunk of the tree, not a handy-shakeable branch. Kieran had to snip off lots of little twigs, and branches

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Then Kieran found a large cardboard box, and taped it together to make sure it could hold a swarm. Using a willow stick, and a soft broom he swept the swarm into the box. It took several attempts, and time – allowing the swarm to reform once it had been swept off, but not all gone in the box, but finally he apparently got the queen in the box, because when the box was left upside down on the sheet the bees congregated inside the box, rather than back up on the tree.

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Once I got there, in the late afternoon, the bees had been in the box for a few hours. We wrapped the sheet up and around the box, and carried it the few hundred metres up to the hive. We took a second sheet and made a ramp up to the entrance which is on the opposite side of the main entrance. We then laid out the sheet that the bees where in on top of this, and shook out the remaining bees in the box.

At first the bees were a little slow to figure out where they were going. The ramp was too steep, and although they were climbing, they weren’t climbing up the steeper bits (ie up to the top where the entrance was).

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We adjusted the ramp so it was easier to climb, and swiftly a few were climbing. Suddenly one bee was inside the entrance hole, then it was a flood of all the bees swiftly cramming themselves towards and into the hole. It was a mad flood into the hive!

We watched the bees going in, and I thought I saw the queen (didn’t have my camera ready at the time) and we also saw plenty of drones, which is a good sign. The colony seems pretty strong in numbers, and I just hope they settle in well!

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How are my first swarm?

Today was pretty windy and damp ~16ºC

The bees had drunk all the syrup in the side unit of the hive, but I don’t think they’d found the sugar syrup on the top of the hive.

Looking through the window they definitely seem to be making a second and third comb, but its so covered in the swarm I can’t see much. I’ve lent my beekeeping suit to a friend for dressing up, and I don’t fancy going into the hive without my suit for protection. They may well seem non-aggressive while I’m outside, but they may start taking notice of me once I start pulling out their comb.

They don’t seem very active, which is a little worrying. I really want to get in there and look for the queen, or for evidence of eggs/larvae to show that she is in there.

BEES!

Today I discovered bees in the hive! They’d moved themselves in all by themselves!

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I noticed bees flying around the hive as I was in the greenhouse, so I looked at the entrance, and saw bees flying in and out. So I looked through the observation window and saw a cluster forming a white wax comb. The bees don’t seem too aggressive.

It was fairly wet, so I made some sugar feed (300g sugar: 300ml water), some of which I put in a side of the TBH with an entrance open, and some I put in the roof space.

Last week’s weather: 2 days of hot ~ 20ºC at the day peak, then 4 days of rain and cold winds. After visiting the hive we had a further 2 more days which were very wet and windy.

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Finishing First Top Bar Hive

I added the green roof to the hive today, stapling the green plastic over the wood for water protection. I’ve been building it at mum and dad’s under their garden shelter, and mum says there have been a few scout bees looking interested at it.

To make it more appealing to the bees I’ve coated the inside with melted beeswax and rubbed lemonbalm over the inside of the roof, over the top bars and over the legs.

I’ve moved the hive up above the veg garden, onto the black plastic. The hive entrance is facing the small bit of land beyond the veg garden.

The weather today was very hot & dry ~ 19ºC.

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Top Bar Hive

Fortuitous events have led me to be the proud owner of a top bar hive this summer! K & I were planning to  build a TBH this past winter, but he’s been so busy with his Masters degree and me with the shop, that there’s been no time to start anything!

A friend from work, Bek, has previous built a couple of TBHs with her partner, which they then gave away when they sold their land. They’re now in a position to have bees again, and have managed to get back a hive and a half off their other friends! So today I went to pick up the half-a-hive from their lovely home. Its just the main body of the hive along with three follower boards and enough top bars, but there are no legs, floor, or roof. But this gives me a head-start, and I can slowly give a go at adding on the rest before the summer is here!