Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects
Spot the queenless colony
Saturday’s fine weather gave the opportunity to open up my colonies for the first time this season.
All but one of the nine colonies came though winter well (and two are about to be given away).
Can you tell which colony was queenless? It’s the one on the left. On inspection its bees were behaving quite normally. They were strong in numbers, bringing in pollen, calm on the comb, but there wasn’t any sign of eggs, larvae or sealed brood – not even a drone-laying worker. Most odd! I suspect the queen finally ran out of steam just one month ago.
On closing up the hive, they weren’t quite as interested in what had just happened as the bees of the queen-right colonies.
And here below is a lonely boy. The only drone I spotted all day:
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger
It was going to happen one day
I knew it was going to happen one day – and that day came last night after more than twenty years.
I knew I’d have a honey spill carrying buckets between the warming cabinet and bottling in the kitchen. But at least I had the foresight to move the honey-warming cabinet downstairs. And at least I took care to make sure the lids were on each plastic bucket before moving it. I even knew to take care using these new-fangled all-plastic buckets (my older and better ones are sturdier and have metal handles).
But it happened anyway – the plastic handle broke and on hitting the ground the lid broke – more than 7 kg of warm liquid honey surged over the kitchen floor. At fifteen minutes to midnight, the silent assassin had struck. It was all so quietly done. Well, apart from my single-syllable, anglo-saxon outbursts.
The good news is that I had reached the kitchen having successfully carried the honey over the hall carpet. There was more quite unexpected good news: the kitchen floor is very slightly concave. And the honey was quite viscous. But there the good news ended for the next hour.
I discovered new things: honey is not just sticky, it’s slippy, very slippy! Taking off my socks to wade through the warm goo, I almost ended up where I least wanted.
Rushing to get towels to soak up the slowly spreading lava flow, I had to try to clean my feet – and of course the flow was strategically placed between me and the sink.
I have no photos of my joy. Even in the age of the selfie, I had another priority.
Thank goodness for the slightly concave floor. This morning, apart from unexpected stickiness in unusual places and a faintly sinister gleam off the floor, I think all is well and there is no need to let bees loose to clean up the mess.
I knew it would happen.
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger
Turlough’s confession time
I’ve been keeping very quiet about this, but now I can speak (writes Vita’s Guest Blogger).
Last autumn, I ran out of time to unite the observation hive colony with an apiary colony. To make matters worse, the colony had hardly any food – not a single sealed cell of honey. I was due to be away over for three weeks over Christmas, so the heating would be turned off. They were doomed!
Feeling guilty, I gave them some sugar syrup in the autumn. The queen had gone off lay in November. I went away for Christmas and on my return expected a sadly deceased colony. But, to my amazement, they had survived. I could see the queen but no brood. I gave them a little more sugar syrup. Foraging days were virtually non-existent.
By mid-February, the colony was very slowly declining in size but still alive. There was no brood, though.
Then at the beginning of March, I noticed some larvae. The queen had been off-lay for about four months, so I though perhaps she could or would never lay again.
Today and yesterday, they have been foraging eagerly. Pollen has been pouring in at a startling rate for such a small colony It looks like they will survive. What a resilient species!
Vita’s Guest (and contrite) Beekeeper Blogger
Buzzing at Bee Tradex
Top topics at the Vita stand at Bee Tradex 2017 were the Bee Gym and the Asian hornet trap. Although Vita doesn’t sell at the show, its distributors were there and we understand the Gym was selling especially well.
Also very popular were the new Healthy Bees Flip Cards. These information-packed cards detailing bee diseases and how to combat them were given away free to visitors. Some association representatives were keen to take away several for their beginners’ classes.
The next Vita stand will appear on 7-8 April 2017 at the BBKA Spring Convention in Telford. Come along and get one of the flipcards for yourself (or a few for your association).
Social Media Calendar Winners
Here are the ten Social Media winners (drawn randomly from the proverbial skep) of the limited edition Vita 2017 Calendar.
If your name/handle is below, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address to claim your calendar.
Maria Emilene Correla