Bee keeping...

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  • Turns out that beekeeping and related activities are seen as essential, in the current lockdown situation. So if you need to move a hive or a colony a significant distance, that's legitimate activity. Just so you know.

    I discovered this because I'd ordered package bees (ages ago) to help add 2 new hives and then lockdown happened. Couldn't get them couriered - usual services the supplier would use are overloaded. Bee suppliers have been talking to UKGov ("Lot of bees and a whole supply chain going to die if we can't do something") and Defra has cleared bee colony transportation as both essential and an animal welfare activity.

    Which is how I ended up cycling quite some distance (carefully) with a box of bees in each pannier.

  • Huge bee sitting on my jasmine waggling its bum about.

    Bee people is this a queen?


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  • It's some variety of bumblebee (looks like one of the Cuckoo Bumblebee varieties), not a honey bee. Which means it could be a queen. Honey bee queens only leave the nest to mate (which they only do once, very early on in their lives) or to form a swarm and find a new home, so it's extremely rare for anybody other than beekeepers to see one. Bumblebee queens get out there more often, but it's still mostly likely a worker.

  • Cheers Bruce. Garden is full of different varieties of bumbles at the mo. Was impressed by its size, hopefully it'll be back soon so I can admire it a bit more.

  • Is it true that bees are or have been starving recently ?.

  • Starving bees is normally a sign that the beekeeper has over-harvested from the hive's honey store. Sometimes it's a sign that the colony was too weak to stop wasps or rival honey bees from stealing their stores. It's not an endemic problem.

    UK beekeeping does face some challenges at the moment but they're mostly about disease (European Foul Brood, American Foul Brood, Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus). When a novice beekeeper finds a colony has died, they usually also find that the stores are empty and some people mistakenly attributed the cause to starvation for that reason. But a weak or dead colony can't defend the stores, which are quickly robbed. Believe me, the whole insect world around a honey bee colony knows the honey and beeswax are there and would be robbing it in a second if the bees weren't defending it. Sometimes weak colonies are robbed of their stores (by wasps or other honey bees, usually) and starve as a result.

    Some parts of the UK have an overabundance of beekeepers but that usually prevents colonies from growing and thriving, rather than starving healthy colonies.

  • Plonked this up yesterday and already had someone scoping out the place this morning


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  • We've got a resident


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  • Here's a nice project for people who like bees: https://www.window-swap.com

  • Had to put an improvised robbing screen on one of our hives that hasn't been doing so well, because the healthy hive started to attack them and rob the honey. Had to throw a wet bedsheet over the victim hive when I first spotted that, but you can't keep that up because you're just starving the hive. By the time i got this in place, there were neat little rows of wax under the victim hive.

    It took a couple of days for full reorientation but they're back out and foraging. Attacking bees visibly failing to find their way in.


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  • When I put in a new hive last year, I decided to try an under floor entrance because I'd heard good things about them (easier for the bees to defend, less robbing, less draughty, no need for a mouse guard). Was impressed with the experience, so this year I've converted the stand and floor of another hive to under-floor (because I had the time and the tools and Thorne charge £65 for their version).

    Before:

    After:


    I will be designing an extra robbing screen for it all the same, because painful experience has taught me how merciless my own bees can be to their immediate neighbours.

  • Totally forgot about this thread, we've got bees now... Tetragonula, stingless natives, they're such cute little things... Got them to pollinate our macadamia trees, we should get around 500g of honey in a couple of months time but that wasn't our primary reason for getting them.. I'll be splitting the hive when we harvest the honey, then we'll have two colonies in the garden!


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  • Splitting a hive today, to get in before they decide to swarm. This weekend looking very much like it'll be swarm time for some in London.

  • Hmm, that’s concerning. We’ve had some honey bees (confirmed) set up an outpost in our water heater exhaust/flue (?). Was quoted several hundred £ by a national company to come and remove them, which isn’t going to happen.

    Any would-be bee keepers fancy a new swarm, if/when it arrives? Happy to receive quotes for the service, but if it’s multiple hundreds of pounds I’d prefer to keep an epipen or five handy.

  • There is a group of London beekeepers who respond to swarm reports, but if you have a settled colony inside part of your building then it's extraction with a whole extra set of liabilities compared to gathering up a swarm that's temporarily settled on some object in your garden or on an exterior wall.

    Are the bees being aggressive? You either have to live with it or get extractors in, for £££.

  • For anyone interested Walworth Garden are looking for beekeeping volunteers

    https://walworthgarden.org.uk/beekeeping­

  • Nice place to hang out and Tristram, who runs the apiary there, is a good lad.

  • Did a hive split a couple of weeks back as part of swarm prevention and to refill the other hive after that colony failed. The split itself worked well - both hives are now healthy and active - but missed something because the buggers in the original hive swarmed anyway. Old queen and half the hive now sitting about 24 feet up in a tree two doors down.

    Today I will be going up a ladder with a bucket on the end of a telescopic pole to try and get them down. What could go wrong?

  • Good luck, sounds very unfun

  • Yep - good luck - get someone at the foot of the ladder !

  • Some bees, which I think are Common Carder bees, have taken up residence in the corner of my roof.

    Patching the broken harling gets postponed for a couple of months until they have done their stuff and dispersed.


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  • Bumblebees of all kinds of varieties are around in unusual numbers this year. Not sure how much that has to do with this year's weather patterns, which certainly haven't been good for honey bees.

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Bee keeping...

Posted by Avatar for sniffy @sniffy

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