Friday, 15 June 2007

Bee Day!

Alan & I took advantage of a break in the rain to transfer the nuclei into the hives. With the bees subdued by a smoker the transfer went with military precision (Alan being an ex Marine Commando) and the transfer boxes were left beside the corresponding hives so the bees could clean them and evacuate in their own good time. The bees will now be left to their own devices for a week or so before they are routinely inspected for anything un-toward.
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Thursday, 14 June 2007

A very happy Alan!

Alan & I took the travel boxes and placed them on the prepared bases and let the bees out. They will stay in the travel boxes until the weather improves and they can be secured in their final positions in the hive. The hive you see at the far end has been in place for a few weeks and has been colonised by 'wild' bees. We will have to decide whether to destroy them as a varroa risk or wait until numbers increase and then test them for the mite by method described by Ian Molyneux.
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Bee nuclei delivery!

While I was at the 'Varroa' meeting on Tuesday Alan was taking delivery of 4 bee nuclei aquired from Mr Hebron from Hoy Lake. The mated & laying queens come escorted by workers to feed and look after her and then the frames in the travel box are transferred to the hives after a day to settle and orientate themselves. Lytham Hall Apiary is officially back in business!
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Regional Bee Inspector

Here is a photo of Ian Molyneux who is the Northern Regional Bee Inspector. He was invited to do a talk for the Blackpool Bee Keeping Association on managing the Varroa mite at Poulton Methodist Church on Tuesday and as it was Varroa that decimated the Lytham Hall bee stocks last winter I thought it a good idea to attend to attend. Ian gave an excellent talk and was full of useful advice on how good husbandry and monitoring of the mites can reduce infestation. Monitoring levels of varroa along with relevant treatment can help to keep colonies trouble-free particularly as chemicals traditionally used to eradicate the mite ie Apistan, Apiguard & Bayvarol, are largely ineffective due to mites having now developed resistance.
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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

A closer look

The hive renovation has paid dividends at last and if you refer back to March postings you will see the 'before' picture! There is still plenty to do on that front but I feel we have made quite a stride forward. The hives will sit quite happily on flags but I decided to edge them with some decking offcuts I was kindly given. This I thought should make it easier to trim back the foliage when the time comes and I also think they look quite smart.
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Tucked away off the main lawn...

Just a picture to orientate you as to where the hives now sit...(main lawn to the right).
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Estate Manager Paul & Alan

A new position for the hives has been agreed in a beautiful spot just off the main lawn. Paul, (who does a wonderful job managing the 78 acres of grounds along with maintenance man John) has very kindly mown a perfectly shaped swathe from the briar and shrubbery where the hives will sit perfectly. The photo shows Paul & Alan with Alan's Jeep that he has owned for 25 years talking some serious bee business!
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Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Dr F I Lee (Dad) RIP 13/05/2007

I'm so so sad to say that I lost my dear dad a few days ago after a short illness. As this blog is dedicated to him I felt it only right that I post a couple of pics and a few words in his honour. My dad was a sweet and humble man whose gentle and kind demeanor touched all those who knew him well or in passing. Through his work as a Doctor he was able help countless people through the pain of illness to recovery. My dad was a man full of warmth and empathy that belied his inner steely resolve, which he used fully to make it easier for everyone who was fond of him to cope with his increasing weakness of body. His keen interest in natural history was infectious and love of sport a source of great pleasure to him. He will be missed hugely by all who knew him especially his loving and large family who are all so eternally grateful to have had him in our lives.
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Dad & me insect watching

Dad RIP - Always proud to be your loving son, Philip.
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Saturday, 28 April 2007

Hive renovation still on-going

Just a picture as evidence that the renovations of our hives are still on-going! With so much equipment it's a real marathon but as long as we have 2 or 3 full hives in order by the time our nuclei arrive we shall work our way through the rest at a more leisurely pace. Incidentally it's the 'bluebell walk' at Lytham Hall tomorrow (29th April) so for a lovely walk round the grounds pop down in the afternoon and enjoy a spectacular sight.
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Mosaic puffball

I also grabbed a snap of this Mosaic puffball (so called due to it's patchwork skin appearance) , a few of which seems to appear regularly in Spring and Autumn just off the track that leads to the emergency exit. I have to admit this particular puffball is no longer there as it ended up in an omlette I had for lunch last week, but at least we have a picture!
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Peacock butterfly

Thinga are a little quiet on the bee front at the moment as we are waiting for our bee nuclei to arrive from Hoy Lake so I thought I'd post this snap of a lovely peacock butterfly I caught warming itself on the bark chipping path outside the bee shed.
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Thursday, 5 April 2007

Rhododendron update

Just an update on the previos photo of the beautiful flowering mass!
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A hive of activity (sorry!)

I have taken advantage of the recent good weather to start the renovation of the apiary hives which we decided would be my task. We have ordered 4 nuclei of bees from each of which we intend to nurture strong colonies and hopefully harvest some honey in the near future. I am flat out getting 4 hives completely over-hauled so the new bees (which incidentally will be certified disease free) will have a thoroughly fresh start and hopefully no sign of varroa mites. Alan's job at present is preparing frames and fitting them with wax foundation, photos of which will be posted asap.
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Equipment galore

Alan has amassed a large collection of hives and associated equipment pertaining to bees, largely manufactured by his own hand. The time has come now to restore it to it's former glory and get the apiary buzzing as loudly as it ever has in the 18 years Alan has kept bees at Lytham Hall.
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Inside the bee sheds preperations are in full swing. I managed to find and then heave into place this shelving which I think has been used for shoe torage in the past. It's perfect for storing all the little bits and pieces you need to get on top of those numerous apiary jobs.
Everything from smokers to mouse excluders, veils, hive tools, straps, matches and kid leather gloves and all is conveniently stored at the higher levels so we can save Alan's back from coming to harm!
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Wednesday, 28 March 2007

On the brighter side...

...the rhododendrons in the hall grounds are bursting into flower as Spring is upon us!
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A 'mite' closer!

I thought I'd blow up the picture as I managed to work out how to do it. Actually, while I'm at it I'll confess I'm a new blogger and a new bee keeper so apologies for any inaccuracies in advance...
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X rated

This picture should be X rated for any bee keeper of nervous disposition - dead bees and if you look VERY carefully you can see the mites themselves. They are chestnut brown and you can see them in the lower left quarter of the picture.
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The hive floor is like a bomb site! Dead bees and fragments of comb left by mice that have taken their opportunity to add a little sweetness to their diets in the form of (our!) honey.
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Hive collapse

The deadly parasitic Varroa mite that lives on bees and has decimated UK bee stocks since 1991 has struck again, this time at our own apiary. The last remaining hive succumbed a couple of days ago, particularly disappointing as we had identified the colonies' queen recently and had high hopes the colony would survive.
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Double Trouble

The old bee hives are in need of some much needed TLC but first some sad news...
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Shhh...Bees at work!

The bee hives are through this door leading from Monks Walk outside the west wing of the hall.
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Another one of the Hall...

I thought I'd post another picture of the hall as I'n not sure the previous does it justice.
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Sunday, 25 March 2007

Better days...

Lytham Hall Apiary has seen better days. Local historian and Head Beekeeper Mr Alan Ashton has had both hip and knee replacement surgery in the last 12 months and has not spent as much time as he would like at the apiary. Although Alan is now firmly on the mend, a combination of inclement weather and the deadly Varroa mite have weakened bee stocks enormously.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The Georgian splendour of Lytham Hall...

The Apiary is in the grounds of the wonderful Lytham Hall which is without doubt the finest Georgian building in Lancashire. The hall is open to the public several days a year and is particularly famed for it's 'snowdrop' walks in early Spring.
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