Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Another mild day - but be warned.

10C this afternoon. I've just spent a happy time watching the comings and goings in Bee City.  Two colonies bringing in pollen - so 2 Queens laying.
But I won't feed any Candypollene yet. There's no point boosting the colony into increasing their brood when a) there's very little forage b) the forecast is for some very cold weather in the next 2 weeks. (Another) good point about WBC hives - bees don't get trapped above crown board. They can join their mates by going down between the double wall of the hive. This also prevents condensation inside the hive.

Putting new candy block above feeder hole - curious workers.

I can tell where the bee cluster is by checking the cappings on the varroa tray - not disturbing them or the ambient temp. inside. QBzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, 19 February 2018

A Mild Candy Afternoon

"Stone" colony bees hard at work
Candy in fridge boxes ready for 5 hives
I feed candy and wet cappings in these boxes, turned upside-down over the feed hole in the crown board. In this way I don't need to lift the board, or place eke in the hive, and I can easily see the rate the candy is being eaten.
I'm pleased I wore my suit and veil today. Every colony, "Stone", "Silver", "Blue/red", "Moss" and "Yellow"were busy spring-cleaning. Stone and Moss were bringing in pollen (small quantities but it's a start!). I will give these two some pollen patties to help them out if the weather stays mild.
When I change the empty fridge box for a full one I often find the bees have built me an amazing beeswax sculpture. Off to make up more frames. QBzz

So this is what they've been doing this winter!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

February Check

Crocuses are in full bloom
Saturday - a fabulous Spring day. Temp. 7C - positively balmy!
Snowdrops and winter aconites trying to tempt the bees.

Today's plan is to 1) check mesh and tray for signs of dead bees and cappings. 2)clear entrance of debris/ dead bees etc. 3) heft each side of hive to assess stores.
It isn't shirt-sleeve weather so I am definitely not opening any hives unless there is evidence the bees are dead.
First - roof off as it is v. heavy.
 Results - Red hive colony has not survived. This was expected as there were too few bees and I introduced a new (mated) Q too late in the season for the colony to grow.
The other 5 colonies are thriving with plenty of stores but I think I'll give them candy or candypolline. Just to be sure!! QBzzzzzzzzzz
....then the other.

lift one side and..........

Friday, 16 February 2018

Oh no!! Not more s**w!

On a day like this was and, as I'm a "glass half full" person ie. an optimist,
Spring will soon release those little furry bodies from their cluster, the only thing to do is clean and re-foundation the supers. I've put it off so far. I hate doing it. It's slow, messy and simply HAS TO BE DONE!
Tomorrow, Saturday 17th Feb. I plan to begin Spring preparation seriously.
Watch this space for my plans. QBzzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Sunny Sunday - time to plan for a bee-friendly garden

Today we've been moving snowdrops into a bank where we can see them - from their hidden places in the woodland.
Honeybees like snowdrops, crocuses, winter aconites and mahonia  - all in flower in my garden now and for the rest of February.
The normal "bee barometer" is Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguinium) which flowers in March and April. When this is in flower and producing masses of nectar the bees are usually out in force and the temperatures are about right for the first inspection. This far North this is usually late April but each year is different.
Borage is best (Annual)
It's worth remembering That many flowers replenish their nectar daily in good weather.  Borage does this.
Eryngium flowers in July and goes on for months.
The bees love it.(Perennial)
 I'm sowing the annuals indoors at the end of Feb. There is no doubt Borage is the bees' favourite.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Bee-friendly Plants

Coming next - if your "sap" is rising and you are just itching to get out into your garden/ window box/ plant pot and, as here, it's just started snowing again, you can start planning. New Year resolution - don't plant anything that is not pollinator friendly. QBzz

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Today is the first "Hive Spring-Cleaning" day

We were planting Snowdrops and pruning the blackberry brambles when the first workers ventured out. Temp. is about 12C but it's windy. Couldn't stop watching them!  We went into winter with 6 active colonies.   Today 5 were busy bringing out dead bees and bits of cappings. Bees need water in winter to help them to utilize their honey stores. I saw many bees leaving the hives in that characteristic spiralling up and away - who knows where.
    The tree-surgeon said he was getting buzzed when he was cutting that firtree down. He thought his chain-saw was disturbing them. I wondered if they were collecting the resin? It certainly smelled strong to me and their sense of smell is at least a million x more sensitive!!
Before the tree was cut down the owl box had to be moved to a N-facing position in the ash tree - best done before the owls start pairing up.
So here it is and, yes, there is a resident tawny. It's actually a barn owl box but the tawny seems to like it.
 QB is happy today but keeping an eye on the stores in the hives. Winter aconites are flowering but not enough for hungry bees. Heft the hives! QBz

The Owl Box