Saturday, 20 December 2008

Bees, Bees, Bees!

This morning we went out to the bee supply place again and bought a nucleus colony - a queen, drones, workers etc on four frames containing honey and brood cells. We brought them home in a foam box (with little breathing holes in it) that was taped up so none would escape.

When we got home, I had to open up the original hive and inspect it to double check there was no queen bee. Couldn't find one, but I did find some brood cells (I pulled the frames out this time, rather than peering down like I did the other day). So I rang the bee fellow who said to check again because if there was an old queen bee, I would have to isolate and kill her (ugh!) so there wouldn't be any bee wars. Apparently, if you catch a spring swarm you often need to requeen and just about always before the following autumn.

I looked and looked at each frame again as well as in the box and could not find the queen bee. So I brushed the bees off and put the frames in the top box with the queen excluder in between it and the bottom box. I left them for a while and when I went back out there it was quite clear there was no queen. If there had been, she would have been down in the bottom box.

So, following the bee fellow's instructions, I put the top box on the bottom and a single sheet of newspaper in between it and the top box. I put the new bees in the top box - they were very co-operative and didn't seem too bothered. A few of them (not many) didn't go in with the frames, but within about twenty minutes of putting on the lid they had found their way inside.

All of the bees seem pretty happy now and I haven't detected any bee wars - they all seem perfectly happy foraging together - lavender, pot marjoram and flowering cabbages being their main targets (in our garden anyway).

I'll have to move the new frames into the bottom box in a few days, so all the brood is down there. When the bottom box is full, we'll be able to go double-decker again. The queen excluder will go on in between the boxes (to keep the queen in the bottom box) and the bees will be able to put honey in the top box.

By the way, the number of bees we bought today was about 2-3 times what we had, so we must have had some sort of remnant colony.

Still loving those bees.

love and light


Cheryl said...

And I just love reading about them....I have a smile from ear to ear.....well done you....great respect for your caring......

Have a fun Christmas naturewitch and I shall visit in the New Year......

Mon said...

I would love to have some bees for honey. How many do you need just for a little honey to supply a family?

naturewitch said...

Hi Cheryl
I think you and I are the bee sisters. Hope your Christmas is fun and relaxing. xx

Hi Mon
We've just started with one hive. As the colony grows, you can use up to four boxes on the one stack. You need to leave one box for brood and if your winters are cold like ours, probably another for food. But the rest you can harvest.
To answer your question - I think one hive would be sufficient. xx

naturewitch said...

Hi Mon
I should have added that I read somewhere that a backyard hive can produced up to 60kg of honey per year - more than enough to meet all of a family's "sugar" requirements, I would think. xx

Darren said...

Is your hive in a suburban backyard? I'd like to get a hive, and am wondering how doable it is in suburbia.