On this page I intend to keep you updated with what
is happening with my bees. If there is anything that you want to know,
so far of
Big changes- instead of living in the Medway Towns, I have now moved to the
Salisbury area in Wiltshire. Moving the colonies down to Wiltshire was
"fun", having so many bees in the car was an experience. Over the year, I
have two new apiaries, and a third just being agreed. More info and further
updates will come later this year now I have moved and have time.
Summary of year
One word really summarise the year-fantastic. The bees had their best year
to date, the winter was kind to the bees, all colonies came through. The
build-up in colony size was fast, swarming and honey collection took u p a
lot of time. This year I tried a new method to control swarming-Demaree
Method, although I used this only on one hive, it worked well and produced a
colony huge in numbers, details on the method are here. Next year I intend
to use the method on all three hives.
Honey collected by the three colonies that I extracted amounted to 93 kg.
Four extractions took place during the year, these were 5May-19 kg,
12July-30 kg, 24August-35 kg and 15 October- 9 kg. They actually continued
to collect and fill numerous other frames with honey, unfortunately it set
hard and I didn’t attempt to extract it. Amongst my normal 340 g jars of
honey, I also prepared and sold a number of pieces of ‘cut comb’. This
proved easy to produce and easy to sell!
Things progressed rather fast, queen rearing time past quickly and I didn’t
really have the chance to try. I did manage to have an apidea setup for the
winter, but I hadn’t prepared it well and the very small colony didn’t
survive. I had the pleasure of removing one very small colony from a air
brick in a wall, but arrived too late to build the colony up once removed,
it was late in the year to be collecting swarms.
Going into winter, I had in addition to the 2 apideas, my three full size
hives and two nucs-these were a poly 14x12 nuc and a national nuc. All came
through winter. The national nuc actually contained two queens, a little
surprising to find the old queen dead on the hive floor, and see eggs within
Summary of year
The year started slowly, a long cold wet winter. The bees gradually built up
and one hive prepared for swarming, this gave me a chance to increase my
hives-a poly 14x12 national resulted after an artificial swarm. I also
removed 3 queen cells and placed them into Apidea's. As an experiment, I
took one frame with a queen cell on and the accompanying bees and placed
into a 14x12 poly nuc, this went onto flourish for the remaining year. One
hive started to become defensive for the rest of the year, and occasionally
resulting in the 'banana smelling' alarm pheromone being produced. A spray
with water was a great help in controlling them. Eventually two of the three
queens became mated in the Apidea’s, the other didn’t and the bees were
merged with the other two. One queen suddenly departed, leaving only
one-this small colony gradually increased and as an experiment I thought I'd
take it though winter with an additional 5 mini frames and a super full of
fondant, a 3D printed 'open mesh floor' was also used to reduce
During June, one hive produced a swarm (caused by a miscounted queen cell),
which landed in my garden and was promptly returned back to its hive, they
were as expected exceptionally calm. This swarm allowed an excellent video
to be captured showing the bees fanning at the entrance drawing home the
stragglers. The two WBC’s produced some dark honey, which was a privilege to
extract and taste. Varroa was treated in the WBC's and poly nuc by using
No oxalic acid was used over the winter period.
The poly hive is always more active than the WBC’s, perhaps due to the extra
insulation. Next year, the intention will be to concentrate on honey
production rather than increasing hive numbers. During swarming, the
resulting artificial swarms will be recombined to produce larger sized
colonies. Hopefully I can also carry on experimenting with the Apidea’s
perhaps, even selling some colonies.
So, in summary the year has resulted in a little honey, 3 full sized hives
with colonies, a nuc and an Apidea going into winter, if they all survive I
intend to sell the nuc and maybe the Apidea if it builds up fast enough.
Checking on the hives today, all are doing well, a total of five hives
consisting of two of 14x12 WBC's, 14x12 poly hive, 14x12 nuc, and an apidea
with extra brood box and super holding fondant. The apidea is normally only
for mating a queen in the height of summer. I have added some more
insulation and so they may make it through the winter. This year I have
concentrated on increasing the numbers of hives, next year I'll be looking
to maximise honey production.
For the bees, the year is now over, they have reproduced (swarmed) and
stocked up on food (honey) for the long winter. At temperatures lower than
8C, they will huddle together to keep warm, at temperatures higher than
this, if its not raining they probably will venture outside. I will now only
check that they are alive every month or so, by simply tapping and listening
for the increasing in buzzing coming from the hive. The apidea will be
checked to see if there is enough food at the same time, the others gently
lifted off the stand to see how heavy i.e. how much food is left. Roll on
spring. The ideal winter would be short cold snaps followed by warm clear
days. We'll have to wait and see.
I'll write a short summary of the year over the next month or so.
Well, the bees have done well, I have removed two supers (one off each hive)
that after extraction resulted in around 30lb of lovely dark honey.
Unfortunately there is no cut comb honey this year, the bees didn't fully
cooperate in finishing off the capping of the frames. Hopefully next year! I
have written a page on how I extracted the honey for those interested, it
can be found here.
Time flies in the beekeeping world. Honey is coming. Three hives are
collecting nectar and changing it into honey, couple more weeks and I will
extract the honey. One Nuc is coming on well, this has built up from one
frame of bees to now 5. Please let me know if you want some!
Well, what a couple of weeks.
Earlier on in the week, another experience. While inspecting the hives,
wearing my bee suit is a must. So, when I realised that a bee had got
inside, I waited patiently for the inevitable. She eventually stung me on my
shoulder. I remained calm (ish!) throughout this, and carefully removed the
offending bee (still alive- not crushed!). Closer inspection of the suit
revealed a large split in the plastic veil material-at
least it was only one. I have written a
new page to cover the rest of the
events, including the bees swarming!
Both hives are building up steadily, hive 2 as you would expect is
progressing very fast. I placed a frame in the brood box to encourage the
production of males within this hive. This was drawn out and the queen has
laid an egg in each cell, all within the week. I have also added a super
full of frames, these frames will hopefully store the excess honey that I
can then remove later on in the year.
A week ago tomorrow, I carried out the first inspection of the year. Both
hives are alive. The inspection consists of looking through the hive to find
the queen, ensure that she is laying properly, and that there are eggs and
brood developing. Also, checking that adequate room and food remains until
next inspection. On cleaning the floor, hive 1 had a complete floor covering
of dead bees, whereas hive 2 only had a couple. Hive 1 bees covered around
one to two complete frames, hive 2 covered around four to 5 frames. I am
really pleased with hive 1. Definitely going to raise queens from that hive.
The new polystyrene hive has been painted with masonry paint, and placed
into position in the apiary. You can see this new hive along with a nuc box
in between the other two hives on the webcam. Just need to allow bee numbers
to increase adequately before the new hive is populated.
The bees are certainly enjoying the warmer weather. Both hives have been
flying when the temperatures hit 8°C, this has been most of the week. Both
are slowly munching through the fondant especially hive 1. Looking forward
to the weekend, where if warm enough I may do the first full inspection of
the hives. Checking the data-loggers this evening, inside above the fondant
it was 19°C, while the external temp was 8°C, perhaps the queen is back
laying ? Hive 1 was still flying after 1800.
Its been a year since I have been a Beekeeper. What a difference in weather
from this time last year. I have added a temperature gauge below the one of
the hives to show the ambient temperature.
For the first time in a number of days, I saw some bees flying from one of
the hives. Only a couple, but they were flying. Not bad for a temperature of
just over 6°C.
27 March 2013
I had a quick look inside both hives this afternoon, by removing the roof
and looking through the glass crown board. Both hives are still alive, one
hive has data loggers fitted inside (reading 10°C) and outside (reading 2°C)
the hive. This enduring cold weather is not good for bees- it doesn't allow
them to move around in the hive and find more stored food. I have added
numbers to the hive, these are viewable via the
24 March 2013
The snow has returned. Checking on both hives yesterday, I added some
fondant to one to ensure the bees have enough food. Hopefully the weather
will improve soon allowing both hives to expand. I think the bees are about
1 month behind compared to a normal year.
17 March 2013
Its nearly been a year since I started out with honey bees, I have learned a
huge amount by looking after them
Both hives are doing well, they are slowly munching their way through the
additional 2.5kg of fondant that I gave them some weeks ago. I think the
queens have started laying, as I can feel the heat coming from the glass
crown board, definitely an increase.
Summary of year 2012
The nuc gradually built up increasing the number of bees. During the 'June
Gap' they required feeding, although it took a while to recognize this, the
increasing number of dead bees outside on the ground should have been a good
The week prior to our summer holiday to Cornwall caused concern, on
inspection a number of queens cells were sealed and even more ready to be
sealed. The cells were all in the center of the frame indicating that the
queen was being replaced by supercedure. Subsequently to this, I split the
hive placing the remaining bees in another WBC hive. Ensuring that each hive
had good queen cell, I left them well alone.
Due to the poor weather it took a number of weeks before the queen mated and
eventually started to lay. A gradual build up then began in each hive.
Winter feeding began as late as
dare in the season,
just managed to get the bees to fill all the frames with feed before the
cold weather set in.
Interestingly over the winter period I have noticed that hive '2' flies at a
far lower temperature than hive'1', hive '2' will fly as soon as the
temperature hits around 7C. on the other hand, hive '1' requires nearly 10C.
The build up in hive '2' was also faster, the queen laying quicker, with
both of these points in mind, I intend to select this hive to produce drones
increasing my bee colonies to three and hopefully produce some spare queens
to either sell or overwinter.
The new nuc of bees arrives, and is installed into the WBC hive.