Building up my bee population

So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that we’re not going to get honey this year.  I was so excited to think it might happen, but it looks I got just too small a swarm.  And whilst they’ve been building up their numbers from around 200 to possibly a 1000 now, there’s simply not enough surplus honey for us all.

The other issue I’ve found is because of the strange late weather we’ve been having, the hive has struggle to draw out more comb, which has restricted the build up of honey stores.  So I’ve started playing with the psychology of the hive, by shifting outer frames into the center to encourage the bees to draw out the comb.   The great thing is it seems to be working and it now looks like I have every frame in the box drawn out, which means the bees finally have the space for brood and honey.

More importantly though, it means as the hive is setup for a fantastic start to the spring.  The reason for this, is as we approach winter, the hive switches from a storing mentality to more a hibernating mentality.  The queen will slow her laying with the intention of reducing the number of bees in the hive so that there is enough food for a smaller group.

Come spring the hive will be ready to expand rapidly, and with the comb all drawn out, the bees won’t have to expend huge amounts of energy making more comb.  So next spring, will be the time when I really learn how to manage a hive properly.

It’s been a gentle introduction so far, and that’s no bad thing!

The slowest bees in town

There haven’t been any updates for a while, because well, my bees are taking a rather long time to get to business.  To be fair I started off with maybe 150 bees and the hive has grown from that to I’m guessing around 1000 or so.  The first super is starting to look the real deal now, with most of the frames filling with brood and I think they’re finally collecting nectar to turn into honey – that said they did need another little honey feed to help with drawing out the comb (thanks to Lyndon Melbourne’s very own Urban Honey Company keeper).

I’m going to check tomorrow evening on the state of the hive and with luck they’ll be in a strong position to over winter.

Will very much Beefuddled

 

Collecting my first swarm of bees

It all happened very quickly, but on Sunday three weeks ago, I drove with Lyndon (Melbourne’s very own Urban Beekeeper) to Flemington and helped with the removal of a swarm from a compost bin.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photo’s as I was carried away with the swarm removal process.  It was actually surprisingly easy, we donned on our Bee Suits, so that we looked the part and then removed the tiny bit of comb the bees had made, putting it into my hive.

Then we vacuumed up the bees with Lyndon’s specially made vacuum device.  Those 200 bees or so were deposited straight into my hive (previously sealed up so none of the bees could escape).

We then securely taped the hive down and loaded it into the back of my car.

Lyndon left me with instructions of what I would need to do, which I am writing here to remember on future occasions:

  1. The hive should be sited in a protected spot, but not under a tree with overhanging branches (dampness is a real problem for bees)
  2. Ensure the hive tilts slightly towards the entrance so moisture/water can drain out easily
  3. Prepare a 50:50 mix of honey to water solution in a zip locked plastic bag.  6-8 pin prick should made into the upper most side only (clearly mark UP so you know which way to place on top of the frames in i.e. the pin pricked holes should be facing up not down).
  4. Open the hive, and shake any bees in the lid to the bottom of the hive, then place the lid by the entrance of the hive and quickly remove the comb (shaking off any bees on the comb) then swiftly put in the missing frames and close the lid.

That was it. After a bit of sweat I was able to sit back and admire the hive.

The story so far…

In the last three weeks, my partner in crime (who I’ll name if he’s happy to be mentioned) and I started the journey to becoming beekeepers.  We bought our bee hives, constructed

the various parts and started painting the supers (the official name for the bee hive boxes).

The plan is to have them finished this week, so that we can get a swarm maybe as soon as the weekend…