Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I Have No Idea

The thing is with bees, you see, is that although we might think we are keeping them, the truth is very much t'other way around.

For example, why was it that this morning, at 6.30, Andy and I were in the car, bee-suited, with a nuc box of bees in the boot on our way to the out-apiary? Because despite the weather forecast not being great, the sun was actually shining and we thought we had better make the most of the window of opportunity and site the swarm we caught yesterday (or rather, the swarm that allowed itself to be caught) before it rained AGAIN and we ended up having a box of cross bees confined to barracks as it were.

And why, when we arrived home, did the spare hive, which is all prepared for yesterday's swarm to go into in a day or so, have a group of bees hanging around its entrance, popping in and out as if to say, 'Hmmm, this looks nice. P'raps we can move in' ?? Are these stray bees from the swarm who were shut out of the nuc box somehow? Are they scout bees from the top bar hive looking for a new house because, hey, we've swarmed three times in last fortnight, let's go for a round four! Or are they zombie bees, back from the dead ball of the second swarm which is dangling in next door's willow looking for a home because they are fed up of dangling, it was a nice holiday and all, but we really need a proper place to stay now because Queenie is getting fed up of camping.

And we're not really dead, we're just pretending.

I have no idea.

Anyway, having done some research last night, we have decided that the top bar is overly full of honey and that is why bees are leaving because the Queen (s times Lord knows how many because I have no idea) have nowhere to lay. So we are going in, bear-style, to raid the hive of honey and free up some space. The theory is that the bees will be so busy building new comb and filling it with stores they won't have time to think about swarming.

The theory doesn't take into account that bees laugh in its face.

But we're giving it a go. See what happens. The sun is shining. It's a bit windy. In an hour most of the flying bees will be out and about. And me and Andy aka Winnie the Pooh and Paddington, will mount a stealth attack with the preserving pan and a spoon and try and unravel the catacomb living conditions inside the top bar hive. We've dug out an old corrugated nuc box 'just in case' because we have reached the point of, 'Get up, have breakfast, do the hoovering, put in a load of washing, read the paper, have lunch, collect a swarm....' being part of our daily routine.

And then, when we've got the top bar as light as possible, we are going to load it in the car and take it to the out-apiary.

Of course, we shall also need to investigate what is occuring in our spare hive because we really need it to remain empty so the nuc swarm will have somewhere to live. The bees that are going in and out at the moment might just be opportunist guerilla-cleaning bees, you know, just passing by and hoovering up any oddment of honey they can find.

I have no idea.

But what I do know is that when the top bar is situated with all the other hives we are going to reinstate the hen pod at the back of the garden and get a couple of hens!

Because despite the reading of books/ interwebbly forums, and the attendance of bee-keeping courses and the experience of two years being kept by bees, it seems we still have no idea what is going on. We think we do, but the bees outsmart us every time.

Luckily, we do know where we are with a chicken!

We think...


becslb said...

Good luck with sorting out your bees - I hope they behave!

I can't wait to 'meet' your new hens! I really miss seeing ours potter around the garden so perhaps I can adopt yours from afar?!!

Becca (aka Yategirl)

Denise said...

Thank you, Becca! I think the bees are being very forgiving of our clumsy ways at the moment. They keep hanging on in there with us so we must be doing something okay.

You are more than welcome to become an honorary auntie to the new hens when they arrive. I've missed having hens in the garden, too - I'm already raring to go and get them, but Andy is reigning me in a bit until we can get the back of the garden where the top bar was organised into a new hen residence.

Watch this space!