Spring seem to have started and the bees are out and about today, the temperature is a balmy 12c and the sun is shining. Had a quick inspection last week and gave them all a slab of fondant. We have lost 2 small colonies over winter taking us down to 16 hives, I really should have combined them together as they both swarmed late in the season. Lesson learnt for this year.
I was sorting thought my bee equipment in readiness for the new season and I seen to have a nice collection of wax, old comb, capping etc. I dug out my old melting pot and the electric hob and have a melting session. looks and smell disgusting but the end produce after just one filtering looks great. I need to filter it a few time before I can use it.
This week I was reading about under floor entrances. I think this is a Dartington design, the main advantages been, reduces wind and rain getting in the hive, reduces robbing from bees and wasps. This inspired me to make some and see if they work. Its a very simple design and easy to make, much easier then a conventional floor. There is a short landing board with a vertical climb thought a 8-9mm gap, a mouse guard should not be needed with this small gap. I have made them from new wood, not overly expensive, the mesh flooring is still the most costly item. The landing board is made from recycled pallet wood.
If we have good results I will be making some to sell, so if any one is interested or have a comment, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
We now have a hive at our new apiary site at Laneshaw bridge. I’ve taken one hive up for now to see how they go. If they do OK Ill take another one up in a couple of weeks. There is plenty of hedgerow flowers out at the moment and heather will be around later in the year. It is a little remote so I will be bringing them back to the Aire vally once the weather turns cold.
June has begun and things have started getting busy at The Bee Yard. We’ve had a few hot days and the bees are loving it, lets hope this keeps up. Saturday night saw our first swarm collection of the season, from a bee keeper just over the boarder in Lancashire. This was already boxes up and ready to go, the easiest swarm collection ever, cheers Bruce. Our 2nd swarm came on Monday lunchtime, a nice size swarm and just 6ft up in a bush. Shook most of them in to a poly nuc and left the box on the grass for an hour while I had a cup of tea. On my return all the bees were in the box, so I think I must have got the queen in the box on the first shake.
We have had European & American Foul Brood in the area over the last few weeks, EFB was about 3 miles away, but more worrying was the AFB a 1 mile from one of our apiaries. I had a visit from the bee inspector on Monday, he was here for 2 hours. Good news, we got the all clear at 2 of our apiaries sites. The other apiaries are not in the affected areas.
I recently acquired a new Top Bar hive to play with, this is a home made design from a guy off the net, its a Top Bar Warre. Not sure if it will work but it’ll be fun to try, i’ll keep you all posted on how this goes.
A work colleague asked if I would give a short talk to the Grassington Friendship Group on bees and bee keeping. They were a very welcoming group of about 30 mature ladies and just a few gentlemen. I had put together about 30 slides on power point, on basic bee keeping. I had also taken a National beehive filled with various frames, wax, plastic, drawn-out, etc and a selection of equipment. The icing on the cake was a 3 frame observation hive filled with bees. The talk lasted for about 30 mins, with a few questions at the end, which led nicely into tea and biscuits. While we had the intermission, I invited them to have a closer look at the hive and equipment I had brought. The meeting finished about an hour later and was thanked by several people as they left, as they had found it very interesting.
A few weeks ago we were offered a new apiary site at the back of a factory, its secluded and very quiet. I put a dummy hive on it for a week just to see if anyone messed about with it. No one had touched the hive so last week I put a hive of bees on the land. I’ve just put another one on this morning. Ive also put a camo net on the hives to help them blend into the into the environment.
After a miserable start to the day the sun came out, all the hives are very busy, and the bees are bringing back lots of yellow pollen. Lets hope this nice weather keeps up.
After lunch I went off to the workshop to see what I could build today. I got 4 brood boxes built up ready to go. I then remembered I’d liberated a small sheet of 4mm plywood from a skip a few weeks ago. Too thin to make crown boards but ideal for dummy boards. I found a pack of national brood frames and armed with my air gun, they were quickly assembled. I measured and cut the sheet of plywood and an hour later I am the proud owner of 10 home made dummy boards, all for the sum of £7.50 the price of the frames bought from my local bee club.
More wood liberated this morning, this was all chunky stuff so decided to make a hive stand. This will take 3 nucs or 3 hives side by side. My logic with the legs in the middle was that it will stand on a 2’x2′ flag stone if needed. I’m sure it will be fine for the nucs but if used as a hive stand it might need a few extra legs.
I now have access to as much wood as I need, namely liberating pallet wood from a friends work, with permission from his kind employer. This year Ive decided I’m just going to buy Brood boxes and make my own roofs, floors and crown boards. I did buy a few metal roof tops when Mann Lake had there sale on at £6 each. I had a play on Saturday and made 1 roof and 2 floors, just another 10 to go.
As you will be aware we have had a drop of rain up here in Yorkshire over the last couple of months and one or two floods. I left the bees alone as the damp weather and inspections don’t make for happy bees. We had a break in the weather last week so I had a quick look under the crown board to see how they are doing and they are all still alive. The air temperature is very mild for the time of year, we’ve only had a couple of frosts. On the drier days we’ve seen the bees flying and bringing dark grey pollen. The next nice day will see me adding a slab of fondant on each hive to keep them going. There is a couple of colonies that is looking small so might need to keep and eye on them and maybe combine them early in spring.