Saturday, 7 May 2011

Bee-moval

So, on getting home from work yesterday, it was all systems go to get two of the four hives transported to their new apiary 8 miles away. Andy, who is on holiday, had been preparing all day, including branding the hives with an MMM logo, as advised by local bee keeping groups following a spate of hive thefts in Kent. For heavens' sake - who in their right mind would steal a hive full of bees?? It's stressy enough transporting them about when you have half an idea of what's going on.

Anyway, off we went with bee suits on and windows open, with the nuc box swarm and the artificial swarm brood box containing Queen Philibert. It was a smooth drive, but you couldn't help but feel slightly on edge that at some point you might peer in the rear view mirror to see a bunch of bees dangling from the back window. But all was well, aside from the rising buzz emitting from both boxes.

The land-owner who has agreed to us keeping bees on his farm, met us and suggested a quiet, out-of-the-way-yet-easily-accessible spot which is perfect - flat, sheltered and no evidence of human occupation in sight. And because he hasn't got a bee-suit, and he could hear the buzzing, he left us to get the bees settled in.

We set up an old coffee table as a dual aspect hive stand. We put Queen Philibert's hive on one end with the entrance facing one way and the nuc box on the other end facing the other way. And the theory then was that we opened the hives and let the bees fly for an hour before trasfering the nuc box bees to their brand new hive home.

Which we did. The nuc bees seemed slightly dazed having been confined to barracks for three days, but they came out and danced about to get their bearings and off they went for a wee and a poo and scout about, and we went off to Auntie Pollie's for a cup of tea.

An hour later, and bees were coming and going quite happily from both hives. So we got the new hive and transfered the nuc frames and added more frames of new foundation which the bees went a bit mental for and immediately did a massive spread out thereupon. So we think the whole bee-moval may have gone okay, unless we go back next week and find two empty hives, in which case it hasn't. But let's not count the bees before they've settled.

Back at Much Malarkey Manor, activity in the original hive containing the new Queen April 29th, and the top bar hive containing (hopefully) the swarm queen Olga, continues apace. The top bar bees now have three access points to their home. Andy said he'd had a peep inside (as advised by the Barefoot Beekeeper to do so on day three after the swarm) and he said there were a bloomin' lot of bees inside, and they seemed to be getting on with things as far as he could tell. And we are hoping that Queen April 29th has been out on successful mating flights only not today because it's been tipping it down with rain all night (hurrah for the allotment and garden).

We want to move Queen April's hive to the apiary in the next week or so, but first we have to remove the super that is full of honey. Which provides us with the next bee-keeping conundrum - how are we going to extract our first batch of honey? There's quite a lot of it. It's all capped and ready to go.

And Andy still isn't very keen on my whirling-sock-and-centrifugal-force method.

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