from Jacqui and me to this record of our experiences as new beekeepers in The Marches.

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Friday, 30 April 2010

Ooops, a sting

Reading back in this blog I realise that it has become a bit of an "anorack's diary" so its time to lighten up.
Following a rush of blood to the head we now have a new Labradoodle puppy. On Wednesday she was out by our pond with Jacqui. Unfortunately so were a good number of our honey production team collecting water needed in the hive. Ruffle being an inquisitive 9 week old, was fascinated by the buzzing sound in the shallows and headed straight in to check it out. Bees' worst enemy are bears that tend to be big, dark, and furry so a worker is programmed to defend the colony by burrowing into the fur to sting. Seeing a worker on top of Ruffle's head Jacqui selflessly grabbed the bee with her hand and removed it but of course got stung in the process. Fortunately she knew to scrape the sting away with her fingernail so that the pulsing sack of venom was quickly removed and the pain quickly subsided. Not everyone is aware that, despite being torn from the dying bee's body, muscles attached to the sting will continue to pulse for up to 20 mins driving yet more venom into the victim. Hence quick removal is a good idea!
Only a wife and a bee were hurt in the making of this story, Ruffle was entirely unharmed and, it has to be said, unconcerned.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The season starts

Thanks to warm days, blossom/pollen on the Bullace Birch and Alder, the bees have been very busy. The hive over-wintered with a super on top of a brood box, no queen excluder. On Sunday 11th April I examined the hive. Lots of bees present. The super contained plenty of honey stores and there was some capped brood at the bottom of the middle frames. Between the super and brood box a small quantity of brace comb had been built with some capped drone cells. The main brood box was well filled with brood both capped and uncapped. Decided to move the super to the bottom. Placed the brood box on top, then queen excluder with a super of drawn comb over that. The object is to give space for the bees to bring in honey without limiting the brood space for the laying queen. Hopefully this will discourage early swarming. The pic shows one of the super frames with capped and uncapped honey. Second pic shows some drone larvae that were exposed and removed.
On Sunday 18th I carried out the first full inspection of the year examining all frames. Didn't spot the queen but not surprising as there were a lot of bees in residence. The new super on top is filing nicely with honey. All seemed to be well with the brood so left well alone.
Inspection on 26th April revealed one play cell but otherwise nothing of note. Honey stores gradually improving. I shall have to keep an eye on the play cell in case it is built into a queen cell.