Friday, 8 May 2015

Beehive Stands- The Good, Bad & Ugly

Here are a few tips we believe work and we want to share them with you.

Hive stands are not just a way to keep your beehive off the wet ground but much more. We have given a lot of thought to this over the years and yet few books or beekeeping article address this. So here it is- our list of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

The Good

Single, individual beehive stands!. Their cost is the highest, but we believe it's worth it for these reasons:

A single stand gives your beehive great centralised support as the honey starts coming in. The average overall weight of a beehive in the height of the season will be 70-100 kilos. If you have constructed a shared hive stand than you need to take this into account, otherwise you will find the enormous combined weight buckles your stand and breaks over time. Beekeepers use a number of stand designs, mostly only taking into account cost and convenience. A single wooden beehive stand, just smaller than the size of the floor, will allow rain water to run off the hive walls and fall clear of the stand, keeping it far dryer and extending it usable life.

The base of each leg of your beehive stand should be raised off the ground slightly so it is not in contact with the damp ground. This will extend the life of the wood, reducing damp rot. We found years ago that audio speaker rubber vibration foot pads work really well. They come with an incorporated metal washer in the centre of each rubber surround. You can screw this to the bottom of each leg, which raises it off the ground by 5cm. The rubber does not rot and it helps to stabilise the stand while absorbing a bit of the vibration externally and some of the vibration you cause while carrying out your routine inspections. See the photos below.

The Bad

Shared stands. The most common being two metal rails supported on blocks. Hives are placed side by side on the rails. The problem with this design is vibration. As you open and inspect your first hive of say three or four on the same stand, all is well. By the time you have closed up your first hive, the second hive is well aware of your presence and are on guard. You have calmer bee activity for approximately the first 5-10 minutes when first opening up a beehive. Your bees are more concerned about the smoke you puffed in then you poking around. After approximately 10 minutes and many puffs of smoke later, your bees will begin to realise the hive is not on fire, and that person in the big white suit is annoying us.

So given you just worked the first beehive for around 10-15 minutes or more, the next hive is slightly more aware of you and on alert as the vibration travels down the shared stand rails. By the time you get to the forth hive on the same shared hive stand you might think these bees are just very bad tempered and need sorting out. This is not the case. They have just been feeling all the bumps and knocks from you inspecting the other three hive over the last 45 minutes.

Palletised beehives, four to a pallet is for speed only. This method is used in pollination contacts where farmers need a 'bee drop' of many hives for a short period. The idea for the beekeeper is easy off loading and quick loading. Most farms just want the bees there for a few weeks so this method works. Little beekeeping management goes on until they are back at the home apiary.

The Ugly

Milk crates, trash bins, rubble pile. Boy we have seen some pretty bad make shift stands in our time. We feel the bees and the over all look of the apiary deserves more. Milk crates will, and do, buckle under the growing weight of the honey coming in. If it is a warm day buckling can happen quite quickly as with any plastic construction super heated. 


Conclusion:
The main reason for the beehive stand is to raise it off the ground to improve air flow around the hive. It is important to reduce condensation within your beehive as much as possible. A beehive raised off the ground achieves this and helps to maintain a healthy living environment for your bees. Keeping grass short and plants well away from the beehive entrance will improve air flow. The height is a personal choice, but around 30cm off the ground is good. When making or buying your beehive stands consider what is a good working height for you. Work out when bending over where will the top of the brood box be. This is where you will be spending most of your time, inspecting each frame and placing them back in. If the stand is too heigh or too low this will create back problems for you over time. Remember you will only be lifting the supers off the hive and placing them to one side, not inspecting them in great detail. So the important height level to consider is where your brood box finished height is.

All text and photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2015©

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Do your honeybees have a water source near by?

It's important that you have a good water source for your bees set up within your apiary. At this time of year your bees will need to eat their winter stored honey which is likely to have crystallised over the winter months. They need water to dilute it back to a base that they can consume easily. 

That is where you come in! Set up a nice water source near your hives in full sun. This is important as bees are cold blooded insects and need external heat to keep going. Bees have two stomachs. One is used for carrying honey and water, the other is used to digest food. So it they fill up on water and have to travel back very far to their hive, they could become so chilled that they drop due to hypothermia.

How to make a mini pond:
We recycle discarded old water storage tanks for our sites. They can be dug into the ground as in the photo or balanced ground level. We provide foam and artificial flowers for our bees to land on. If they fall into the water they can crawl up the foam and out to dry off before flying back to their hive.

Once the foam or floating flowers have a bit of moss growing on them your bees will love it. Put a few handfuls of soil and dead wood in the water to enrich it with natural minerals. Of course pond plants in gravel baskets look great and the bees will enjoy them too. Bees do not like water that is too clean. Rain water is better than tap water and once the water source gets well seasoned your bees will flock there.
All photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2015©

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Bees are waking up. Bee ready!

Sorry for the gap in these blogs, wow time does fly when your a beekeeper!

So the weather is on the change and a few sunny days have brought out some flowers, The trees are now budding and our bees are bringing in the first pollen on 2015. Our advise is to BEE PREPARED!

Now is the time to make a concise list of all the equipment you need to either replace or upgrade. Get all your frames nailed and waxed. We suggest making far more than you think you will need this year. Its better to have too much, than not enough. We see so many panicked beekeepers coming in the shop desperate for a super, brood box, queen excluder, because their bees have over developed beyond what they imagined or prepared for. 

By taking note now and getting as much done early, will really make your beekeeping hobby much more enjoyable. So what to consider:

1 Hive stands in good shape? Need a paint up or repair.
2 Extra supers and brood boxes in reserve and ready.
3 Ample smoker fuel ready for the season.
4 2015 Action Plan. Consider what you wish to achieve this beekeeping year and make it happen.
5 Review your 2014 beekeeping notes ands learn from your mistakes or achievements.
6 Clean, clean, clean.. Make sure all your equipment is clean and ready.
7 Make sure your bees have plenty of stored food and step in to help if they don't
8 Keep them protected from woodpeckers, mice, winds, falling branches and vandals.
9 Check all your honey extraction equipment is in good working order before it is needed.
10 Check your protective cloths to make sure they are still bee proof.

We have begun our 2015 prep for the year ahead and have been making hundreds of wooden beehive stands over the last weeks. We all enjoy crafting hand-made bespoke beehive parts for our apiary sites. There is nothing as enjoyable as working with fresh sweet smelling wood and cutting, shaping and finishing off the part in the great open outdoors. 
All photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2015©

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Go tell your bees- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Don't forget to give your bees a little Christmas gift to show your thanks for all their hard work in keeping the eco system working and providing the worlds most natural food.

It has been our family tradition since 1924 to go out to each beehive and give them back a full frame of honey with a tiny bit of holly. We quickly open each hive and remove an empty brood frame and replace it with a full frame of honey. It's our way to let our bees know we appreciate their hard work and how grateful we are to them.

So don't forget your bees!

Merry Christmas from all of us here at The Hive Honey Shop-London
All photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2014©

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bees find our Shop Nature Habitat

If you have bought one of our many Insect Habitats and wondered if they really do attract insects- the answer is YES1 They need a bit of time to wear in, mellow, and for the insects to find them. The photos below show one of out Solitary Bee habitats now in full swing. It took a year before the tiny little stingless bees found it and took up residents.

The first thing they do is lay a single egg in a single chamber. Then the bee packs it with pollen for their larva to feed on. Finally they pack the rest of the chamber with moss, twigs and fine leaf cuttings to seal the chamber. The egg is now safe in the sealed chamber and when the time is right (about one month later) out pops a fully developed bee. Solitary Bees or Leaf Cutter Bees do not make honey in abundance like Apis Mellifera (hive) honey bees, but are very important helpers in pollenating plants.

Once your habitat gets going it's a wonderful sight to see this busy little buzzing hive! Safe for pets and children as these little bees can't sting. We also have:

* Ladybird habitats
* Butterfly habitats
* Bumblebee habitats
* Smaller Solitary Bee habitats


All photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2014©

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

CRAZY BEE MAN!

You have to see this! Do not try this at home!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBZokYNQCdA

Monday, 16 June 2014

My Bees are acting AGGRESSIVE?- Don’t worry it’s the JUNE GAP

I am being contacted by a number of concerned beekeepers that they are finding it hard to work with their bees. They tell me that their bees have become more aggressive, seem to swarm around a lot more, and after opening the beehive all their other hives near by seem to become active?

Don’t worry- it’s the JUNE GAP. What is the June Gap I hear you ask. Well it’s traditionally the time of year when the majority of plant sources suppling pollen and nectar in the UK dry up. Flowers that have been pollenated now stop producing their abundance of nectar. Your bees up to this time have been over feeding the queen so she will lay eggs, producing thousands of bees in preparation of gathering this never ending honey flow. Little do your bees know but shortly this will all dry up.

Many people say to me, ‘But hang on I see flowers everywhere, surely the bees have food”? Plants produce the nectar and pollen not as a goodwill gesture for insect, but to entice them to the plant in the hope of cross pollination. Once they have completed this task they have no further use for insects and in many cases stop producing their treats. So the flowers look great, but nothing for your poor bees any longer. Other flowers are self pollenating and either do not produce nectar, pollen or both. In any case, as a result, the nectar flow will be greatly reduced and impact on the mood and attitude of your bees. Once this happens your bees feel frustrated as their long hard journeys in search of food are coming up empty. Other insects are experiencing the same lack of food so this can promote ’robbing’.  Bees, wasps, hornets are desperate to find a food source so they rob hives and over protect their own.
How does this affect your beekeeping? Well before the June Gap your bees were happy to allow you into their home as this was a time of plenty. Now with so many mouths to feed and so little food coming in, it’s not surprising that they might resent your weekly inspection and display a tad more mistrust. Once a beehive is opened the smell of the honey, as you lift a frame out to inspect it, wafts into the air and other bees are attracted. Your own bees become excited too and this creates a hysterical event. A new comer to beekeeping might confuse all these signs as a long term change in their beehives attitude and decide to requeen in an attempt to change the overall mood of their beehive. 

Another wrong conclusion that a new comer might make is during this time is not seeing eggs and what this could mean. During your inspection no eggs are seen and a gap in the brood development would suggest your beehive is queenless. However it could be that your bees have now realised that there is a nectar gap, no food coming in, so in order to regulate the population of the colony they have stopped feeding the queen. The queen in turn will reduce egg production and worker bees will remove eggs from the hive. They know that with little food coming in it makes perfect sense not to have new mouths to feed. So before buying a new queen have a slow, calm good look for your queen. She might just still be there.

Generally the June gap only lasts around two weeks and you will find in most cases your bees will be back to normal within that time. We do not remove honey during this time if we can help it as it excites the bees. We suggest buying extra honey supers so you can give them extra room while leaving the full honey supers on. We do this because if the June Gap goes on longer than expected, your bees have plenty of food during that time.

Any questions feel free to email us and we will do our best to post a reply. 
Happy Beekeeping.

The Hive Beekeepers
All photos & text copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2014©