Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh - Bee-have!

A beautiful morning here today so I decided to see how things were coming along.

The first thing I noticed was the extraordinarily vivid dark orange pollen. I wonder where this is coming from. Any ideas anyone?

It was clear that the bees hadn't warmed to their nice new feeder as it was still very full. I had swapped the old one for a circular type with a removeable lid with a "cup" inside separating the girls from the syrup. So that's another lesson learnt...

That being said, all the frames seemed to be coming along nicely still. The amount of stored honey had fallen relative to the upcoming brood which I had been concerned about. One newly-drawn frame was packed with fresh eggs which was enough to satisfy my concern for herself. [I was alone this morning without my regular Queen-spotting assistant so it won't come as a surprise that the sovereign remained from view again.]

I really notice that there is a massive difference in the "readability" of the older frames vs. this year's. The new cleaner frames show up all the contents so much more clearly. I need to learn how to go about doing the frame exchange next season so I can replace the battered older frames with fresh ones. [This is an important exercise in reducing disease].

Thankfully, the varroa mite-drop count showed up practically nothing that I could identify but I have left the screen on for another few days to get a more representative picture but so far, so good.

Interestingly, to my mind anyway, I positively tried to cut back on the amount of smoke that I use. The girls certainly seemed in a better temperament - no dive-bombing or stings - although more took to the wing as I removed the frames and circled about. After a while, they either setled down or I failed to noticed anymore.

My next task is to make up the shallow frames with foundation just in case there is an opportunity to add the super - even at this late stage I am still confident that an Indian summer will arrive but this may be simply wishful thinking to compensate for the mostly awful weather since the start of July.


Lynn said...

Hi Cliff. In my little corner of the world, goldenrod is blooming and my bees are bringing in lots of golden yellow pollen. They almost waddle they're so loaded. Fun to watch.

I've learned after a year's time to use very little smoke. My husband and I removed 16 shallow frames full of honey using only a very light smoke. You will become more and more comfortable as you continue to get to know your bees.

Cliff W said...

Hi Lynn, you're right.

Sometimes I think I almost forget that it's also only just over a month since I got my first nuc so I need to remember not to expect too much, too quickly.

Well done on your harvest. Sounds lovely.

Ngaio said...

Hi Cliff, thanks for visiting my blog - I will enjoy following your bee adventures - nice to hear from someone in the land of my ancestors !!

Hopefully I will try and up-date my blog more regularly, I am so busy with work and teaching 2 beekeeping night classes a week that when I have a spare moment I promptly fall asleep - must be old age I reckon ..

Dandelion pollen is bright orange, my bees are busy with that and other early spring flowers including all the fruit and magnolias that are out now.

Cliff W said...

Hi Ngaio,

Have you noticed a increase in interest from people wanting to learn about bee-keeping? Seemingly, the numbers of beginners (which includes me!) was significantly up on the previous year and this statistic is being repeated in the UK.

Generally, public interest in grow-your-own and self-sufficiency have undergone massive revivals here - partially thanks to the economic downturn. A very positive side-effect if you ask me!

Ngaio said...

Hi Cliff, yes, I have noticed a huge interest in beekeeping along with sustainable living etc happening here - it is great !! I decided this year to run a class aas there is nothing else around except a Polytech in the South Island that runs a course - the first class filled indays and I was asked to do another night. I am also doing the same next term in Oct - it all fits in well with our spring and summer starting now.Long may it last, I say. I am passionate about getting the education out there about the huge importance of pollination and how badly we need more bees.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

It's nice to read a beginner blog from another country - I see our experiences are similar.

I read you're planning to trade out your old comb. We've had that suggested here too, that we remove about 3 frames and put in fresh each year. The old brown combs hold the disease and the chemical treatments too.

The bees are gathering lots of nectar at the moment from golden rod as Lynn reported in her comments and from alfalfa too.

PhilipH said...

I'm not a bee-keeper, other than my gardens, and those of Mellerstain House, provide plenty of plant life (cultivated and wild) and I just love watching them all at work.

Wonderful creatures, truly amazing in their non-stop work foraging for food.

It's not just their honey which benefits mankind of course. And this is the big concern, a growing concern, that their contribution to a huge part of the food chain is threatened by the decline in bee colonies world-wide.

I wish you great success in your bee-keeping Cliff.