Saturday, 5 June 2010
After a period of nearly 3 years the it's great to be able to say that the bees are back in residence at Lytham Hall. The story of their absence is long so I'll save it but it's all forward from now on we hope.
After a very hard winter in 2008 the bee have been living in my own garden at Central Drive in Ansdell. Numerous swarms have occurred (pics will be posted soon) but I'm delighted to say the neighbors and particularly the school have been fantastic and extremely supportive in these difficult times for our bees.
With 6 colonies in total at present (4 at the hall and 2 at mine) it's a busy time but the prize of the honey keeps us at it! I say 'us', the other being my partner in bee keeping and great friend, Alan Ashton who, apart from a dodgy knee is in rude health and still busy from dawn til dusk in his mid 80's, an inspiration!
More to follow soon so watch this space....
Thursday, 28 February 2008
After having cut the top off the plastic covering that the feed comes in to allow the bees access, I placed a 'super' box on top of the excluder board to give clearance for the bees to come and collect the feed without the hive top hindering them. Hopefully the super will one day, not too far off, be filled with capped honey comb!
After the hive No 4 collapse I rang Thorne bee keeping supplies and they advised we feed some Apifonda which is a sweet bee feed meant to supplement the bees natural stores. We were reasonably confident that the remaining hives were heavy enough to contain ample feed but took this precautionary measure for obvious reasons.
When the nuclei of bees arrived we placed the frames in a brood box with frames filled with wax foundation either side for the bees to 'grow into'. Here the bees have for some reason reverted to their natural comb building style rather than the way that we humans try to encourage them to make the honey more harvestable. In all honesty we are not exactly sure (or have any idea actually!) why they have done this. The mysteries of bee keeping!
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Alan dismantled the now collapsed hive no. 4 and here is one of the brood frames. It looks like the bees just hadn't got enough feed to survive the winter. It's a fine line between gaging whether they have sufficient feed to last and opening up the hive to administer feed when it is cold and damp in winter - a deadly combination for bees. I have to take responsibility for this but will put it down to experience...
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
It was a lovely day today and I nipped in to see if the bees were out and about. The 3 hives (we lost a colony a couple of weeks ago) that survive were a spectacle of activity with the bees coming and going making the most of the first warm , dry day for a good while. Last Sunday I fed the bees with Apifond which is a solid feed and comes in packs that you lie on the excluder board. I put empty supers on top so the bees had better access to the feed. I have spoken to Ian Molyneux, the Regional Bee Inspector, and he has promised to pay us a visit to sort out the mess in the brood chambers. We need the bees to fill up the brood boxes so the colonies will grow strong and fill the supers with that special Lytham Hall honey!
Well, it's been a long time since I posted on this blog but I'm determined to post again regularly! We had a minor disaster which we discovered last Autumn - in their new position the bees are much more active than they were in previous seasons and the new nuclei we bought in performed far better than we expected. Not wanting to disturb the bees too often when they were bedding in, we actually left them too long and when we did look, the bees were building wax comb in the roofs of the hives. In the brood chamber we had only positioned 5-6 frames intending to add more when needed as the colony grew. In actual fact, the bees had filled in the empty areas with comb and the chamber was a mass of comb and in a total mess. The bees needed more brood frames and a super adding on top in which to store their winter food, hence the comb in the hive roofs. We had a right struggle trying to sort it out but did the best we could before winter started to close in and we had to leave them in peace...