Monday, October 24, 2011

Managing (aka annoying) bees

On Wednesday 5 October, Barbara came and checked my hive for AFB and the hive was so healthy, I thought that starting another hive from mine would be a possibility. It was coming up to the weekend when I could by a quality virgin queen from the Lorimers. However, I decided against that as I knew that most of all I needed to move my hive. When I first got them I was concerned to give them as much protection from our cold winds as possible. However the spot I chose, right on the edge of the bush, didn't receive enough sun. It was also awkward to work. So as soon as there was a warmish evening, Mac and I, with great difficulty, moved the hive into the orchard, where they get much more sun.

What I did was totally against the 'rules' but I had been told of a couple of people who had moved hives a short distance by piling a heap of twigs, brush etc. in front of the hive so the bees were made to re-orientate.  I don't think I put enough on the pile, and what seemed to be an awful lot of bees flew back to the old site over the next couple of days. I feared I had ruined the colony, and left them alone until yesterday, when Mac and I had a look through the hive. It was full to overflowing! There were swarm queen cells on the bottoms of many of the frames, plus 3 succession cells on the faces of frames. I removed a lot of cells before I realised that I could still make a new hive from a nuc of this lovely strong hive. I went and rang Barbara.

Today Barbara came over and we removed almost all of the remaining queen cells. We put one frame of brood with a good queen cell on it, two more of brood and pollen and two of honey into a box (the grey box above), having shaken all the bees into the original box to ensure we hadn't accidentally taken the queen, and put it on top of the queen excluder on the hive. We put another queen excluder on top, and then replaced the honey super.

The bees weren't all that chuffed about the whole business.
In the late afternoon Barbara returned and we moved the 5 frames plus, the nurse bees that had moved up to look after the brood, into the small nucleus hive.
Again, the bees weren't totally happy at the disruption, but they settled down quickly. Now to wait and see if the whole thing worked.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

There are many ways of looking at things, but it does pay to have as many facts as possible before coming to a conclusion.

Last night I went to Auckland with my 28 year old son to listen to jazz. We were on our way home to his place in Hamilton when I received a text from my husband telling me it had been raining hard and water was pouring over our driveway (only the second time in the nearly 12 years we have lived here.) So I decided that rather than arriving home at 1in the morning in a flood, I would stay at Steve's place and return in daylight when the water level should have dropped.

Version one:

It was getting on for midnight when I asked Steve to stop at a garage and while he waited in the car, I went to the night pay window and asked for a toothbrush. The attendant got a toothbrush from the shelf and served me. I was glad there was a security window between us as he seemed very peculiar, smirking and sniggering as he commented that "this is the last toothbrush we have - this really is your lucky night!" I smiled nervously and responded, "yes, I guess it is," though I couldn't really see that a toothbrush mattered that much.

As we drove on, I thought about the the rather odd young man, thought about the expression on his face, and thought about the snigger - and suddenly I recognised the expression and the snigger....

Version two:

A young man is working the late shift in a garage. It's getting on for midnight.  A car pulls in and parks in the dark to the side of the shop. The driver's silhouette is that of a man with a beard. A woman in her sixties gets out and approaches the night pay window and asks for a toothbrush! The young man serves her, telling her, "this is the last toothbrush we have - this really is your lucky night!" The old woman doesn't show the slightest sign of embarrassment as she replies, "yes, I guess it is." The young man laughs at the ridiculous concept of a woman that age going home with a man she'd picked up unexpectedly and thus having to buy a toothbrush on the way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Swarm Catch

This morning I was settling down to work on my Apicultural Knowledge course when I got a phone call from the Raglan office of the Waikato District Council, asking me to come and collect a swarm of bees which was causing some concern. Oh my gosh! I have never done this before! I rang a bee friend, Jacqueline, and met her in Raglan.

 Yep, those be bees!
 Right next to the footpath.
 And pretty close to the centre of Raglan.

 Neither of us had ever collected a swarm, but at least this one was easily accessible.
 Jacqueline held the box up while I snipped the two twigs the swarm was settled on.
 Note to self: check that the pair of gloves you take actually is a pair, rather than two left gloves! Didn't get stung though.
 I shook the bees off the twigs and into the box.
 We left the bees on site to settle down,
and Jacqueline will return and collect the box tonight.

Life is exciting - so great that there are new challenges and adventures even after turning 60 three and a half weeks ago.