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Indecisive bees sit on the fence

East-facing side

I watched a cast swarm emerge yesterday and debate on which side of a newly installed fence they should hang up.

First of all, they flew high above the garden looking as if they would depart high up in a birch tree where a previous swarm had landed.

So, I thought I would try hanging a Vita swarm lure on the clothes whirlygig in the garden. Immediately the garden air was suffused with the beautiful scent and soon afterwards the bees did indeed descend back into the garden, flying lower and lower until they finally settled on the garden fence.

But which side of the fence? The debate went on for about 30 minutes until they decided on the shady west side (it was 11am). At one point I even saw the queen marching along the top of the fence (but sadly the photo I rapidly took of her is grossly out of focus).

West-facing side

The bees are now safely re-homed and I’ll be trying the Vita swarm wipe  as a last-minute lure next time I see a swarm.

And I’ll be hoping that the fence will become the favoured place to hang out!

Turlough
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Do workers move eggs – evidence!

Can bees can move eggs around a colony? It’s often a subject of debate.

Until this weekend, I had never seen any convincing evidence of it, but then I saw this as I was extracting the spring harvest:

 

Even though a clearer board had persuaded nearly all the bees to leave for the super and brood box below, some persistent bees stayed on. On an adjacent frame I found a smattering of drone brood — and then the queen cell on this frame.

Was it just a play cup taken a bit too seriously or was there anything in it?

There she was! A developing queen pupa.

I can’t be certain which colony the super had come from, but I knew for certain the apiary and that only one colony was appeared to be in queen-cell making mode. The queen had been removed to another box, so I must assume that after her removal the bees decided to move an egg up into the super and make it into a queen. When the queen was in the hive, a queen excluder had been in place.

Turlough
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

The Asian hornet in action

With another sighting of an Asian hornet in England and its spread throughout western Europe, here are some action photos courtesy of Michel Duret and our colleagues Apinov in France.

And there is an Asian hornet trap — Apishield.

 

Photos courtesy of Michel Duret and Apinov

 

Vita’s 20 years in 2 minutes

Startled starlings

Turlough, Vita’s Beekeeper Blogger, writes:

Many beekeepers will be all too familiar with what happens when honey bees return after foraging to find that their home has gone. They buzz around and eventually cluster close to where the hive was originally sited — and with no queen around, they get grumpier and grumpier.

So, what happened when the starlings that I featured two weeks ago returned home and found their roosting trees gone?  There was no time to search for a new site as it was getting dark.

I had heard that the trees had just been felled through social media, so I went to the scene at dusk.

Firstly, they gave their usual glorious display (and I had a better camera with me this time):

 

 

But when they were ready for bed, they were startled to find that their roosting trees were gone. Fortunately, there were similar trees just across the road, but there weren’t many and they couldn’t all fit in.

Normally they take less than a minute to fly into their roosting trees. Then they squabble about who has taken up too much of the bed and have a noisy gossip, probably about the ‘awesome food’ they had found that day.

This time was different. There just wasn’t enough room. And the video shows what happened. This pattern of activity went on for at least 45 minutes … How it ended I cannot be sure as I had to go, but there must have been a lot of stressed-out starlings using up a lot of energy. Luckily, it is a mild night, so it mightn’t be too bad for those left out in the cold.

Turlough
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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