Posted by: hencorner | July 14, 2012

Don’t Worry, Bee Happy!

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

I’m sorry that we are a bit late with this post, but something rather scary yet exciting happened last week; all will be revealed…We have welcomed some new chickens to Hen Corner, are picking loads of loganberries and the asparagus season has come to an end.

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SWARM…!!!

Last week I was just about to go outside to tidy the kitchen garden, salvage what I could from the slugs and plant some tomatoes, when the sky went grey and a loud hum vibrated around the conservatory. I looked up and realised that the bees were swarming… I phoned my bee mentor, Andy Pedley, who asked ‘Where are they settling?’ ‘They’re not!’ was my cry as I watched a re-enactment of an Indiana Jones film live in the back garden; bees were pouring out of the hive and filling the air… ‘Get your camera out and film them, they will settle, just research what to do online’ were the final words from Andy as I grabbed books off the shelf, the camera from the drawer and opened up Google. I knew that there were people more than happy to come and collect them from the garden, but I wanted to keep them as I was planning to start a new colony and they were good, nice bees! Within minutes they began to gather around a branch of an apple tree, with the queen tucked in the centre; my job was to knock them into a box, find a second hive and then re-home them. Dragging the climbing frame across the lawn to balance the box on followed by climbing a ladder with a crow bar to tug the branch down all helped for a successful collection; I was even fortunate enough to spot my original queen in the box! It was scary, but I felt proud that I managed it by myself…

I think they swarmed because the colony had grown so big and strong; they had nearly filled two supers with honey (approx 60lbs), naturally wanted to reproduce, and my last inspection wasn’t very thorough because I hadn’t been very well.

Even a cloud of bees has a silver lining…

So the swarm was temporarily homed in a borrowed hive and there must be a new queen in the old hive (I just haven’t seen her yet). The original hive is still full of busy bees and we are watching to see if the new queen will mate successfully and start to lay her own eggs. So we now have TWO colonies of bees here at Hen Corner and obviously needed another hive. I’m very excited to say that we now have a shiny new Beehaus from Omlet… I’ve wanted one for a few years now and it was so easy to put together. I’ve settled our old queen and her entourage safely inside and am confident that they will make themselves at home and be very happy!

So now we have two queens I’m starting to wonder whether we should name them? Our original queen is Italian and marked orange, any suggestions?

Book of the Blog Post: From A to Bee: My First Year as a Beginner Beekeeper
By James Dearsley

This book arrived a couple of weeks ago and is a delight for anyone interested in bees, self-sufficiency, juggling family life, exploring new hobbies, social media or those who just like to peek into someone else’s diary!
I’ve been following James, the SurreyBeekeeper, on Twitter for a couple of years now and he’s been really helpful for anything bee related, his Facebook page is one of the world’s largest!
Whilst enjoying the book, I’ve discovered a real identification with James as he explores his first year of beekeeping and recounts that journey of discovery that leads/points to a jar of honey…

With laugh out loud moments and a grounding in everyday life, I recommend this as THE book to read this summer…

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:

  • Our fruit and nuts seem to be growing well, despite reports of low pollination due to the very wet spring.
  • Three new chickens, that were thought to be cockerels in their previous home, have moved in. However, they are very quiet with us…
  • We had fun making some new films with the team from Digitize Me

Jobs for next week:

  • Secure the tall asparagus ferns now that we’ve stopped cutting it to eat
  • Install that watering system in the Kitchen Garden, just in case summer actually starts!
  • Plant the potted tomatoes and cucumbers into the ground and hope they survive the slugs and snails

Have a good week yourself…

Join us on the Journey!

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Responses

  1. Well done for collecting them on your own! Sounds like some tricky manoeuvres went on. How comforting the sound of Andy’s voice is when it comes to a bee emergency.

    Let us know how you get on with the funky Beehaus.

    • Thanks! I’m reassured that my original queen is in the new Beehaus…
      Now to find the new queen… She’s black with yellow/orange stripes… Have you seen her?

  2. I hope I will be as brave when the same happens to me.

    I’m just learning about bees, but it might be a couple of weeks before a Queen hatches out?

    • Ooh, I thought she swarmed because another queen had already hatched? I knocked off 5 or 6 queen cells yesterday to stop them swarming again!
      At least my original queen is safe…

  3. Roger is right, very brave Sara! Brilliant swarm catching :)

    • Thanks, so glad I did catch them, she’s a great queen… Haven’t found the new one yet, or evidence of her laying… Yet loads of activity and storing pollen… Just wait & see?

      • It has been good weather so chances are she’s mated. Emily and me sometimes worry about beekeepers culling drones throughout the season as drones might be needed for late summer virgin queens, but last year our July queen mated well. Ted Hooper suggests late summer queens are better to get colonies through winter healthier and stronger, as they are laying later in the year and winter bees are younger. The queen usually starts laying within a few days of mating so just give her a chance to settle in. :)

      • Thanks! I’ll be patient and look forward to my next inspection…. Hopefully, the colony will be more calm when she’s laying…

  4. Would love to know how you find your beehaus as have been toying with buying on of these for a while…I remember my first swarm I had been beekeeping for a whole 2 months it was amazing to watch but scary to…bet you felt quite proud once you had dealt with it rx

    • Hi Rachel,
      I love the Beehaus, it’s a great working height and the plastic 6 frame supers make honey harvesting so much easier as they are lighter than the big wooden National supers.
      The brood box is big as the frames are deep so I’m feeding the bees lots of syrup to help them fill it up for winter.
      Yes, I was proud to catch the swarm – but we know the dangers of pride coming before a fall…
      Unfortunately, I made the mistake of knocking off all the queen cells to stop further swarms and killed the new queen before she emerged!
      Good job I had caught my original queen in the swarm…
      Next year, as the Beehaus is two hives, I’ll do an artificial swarm which should leave me with two strong colonies…

      I hope this helps?

      Sara

  5. I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today.

    • Thanks.
      It’s a free theme that I’ve maximised, I’m glad you like it!


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