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




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

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Honeybee Flood & Starvation Alert

Flood
You will be aware that heavy rain throughout the UK has meant flooding in areas and riverbanks overflowing. The UK Bee Farmers Association have circulated a questionnaire to find out the extend of those members affected. It goes without saying that all bee apiaries that could be near a potential flood risk area should be moved now. It is generally known that moving bees in the winter is a bad idea. The disturbance make the bees active, alarmed and they will consume reserve food stores, much needed at this time of year. But in light of them drowning, move them to a safe area now.

Starvation

The weather is spiking warm some days, cold on others. This means your bees will go out of their hives on warmer days in search of nectar and pollen. However there is not much nectar if any to collect, so they could use up all their remaining honey stores for the energy to go out and look for nectar. Keep a close watch on each hive for food levels and feed frames of honey if you have them, or a slab of fondant as an emergency feed. Bees can look healthy and happily flying in and out of the hive one day and dead the next. They all share the remaining food equally and therefore show no sign of anything wrong until it is too late.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

One- Day Introductory Beekeeping Session May 10th 2014. Book Now Online


Want to keep your own bees and bottle your own honey? Well this one day special beekeeping session is just for you! Now in its 20th year, with many ex-students having gone on to write books about bees, head beekeeping associations around the country and abroad, after taking our course.

PREFECT GIFT IDEA! Gift Vouchers Available

The course will take place one Saturday in May 2014. This unique course provides a real hands on beekeeping experience. We are now taking bookings for the 2014 courses. 

Our one day course guides you through the practical side of beekeeping as well as the theory behind the art. Our Master Beekeeper will discuss how to keep bees in a city back garden or the open countryside. This course is a summary that will allow you to decide if you wish to learn more and take your interest forward. 

Our fun easy to follow session covers areas like:
History Of Beehives
Beehives & Beekeeping Equipment- What's Needed
Anatomy Of The Bee, What Goes On Inside A Beehive
How to Open And Manage a Beehive
Seasonal Guide From Spring To Autumn
Keeping Healthy Bees And Happy Bees


Under expert supervision you will get to handle our super gentle happy bees and look inside a live beehive. We provide you with all the protective clothes and gloves so you can relax and enjoy our bees without worry. You also receive nice refreshments and lunch! 

The course is on Saturday May 10th from 10:30 - 3:30pm at our lovely Bee Heaven Farm Teaching Apiary.
LIMITED 15 per course

Sunday, 3 November 2013

BUYERS BEWARE! The TRUTH about Buying Beekeeping Equipment


This article is long overdue. We have gathered evidence and the facts surrounding the pitfalls, cheats and cons in buying beekeeping equipment. Buying quality hive parts is a minefield, particularly for the novice, and we hope to help you navigate your way though the process with experienced advice, so your beekeeping experiences are happy ones!


We will show you what a mess you may be getting yourself into if you buy based on price only. Remember, you get what you pay for! While it’s always smart to shop around, this article will empower you with a bit more knowledge of how beehive parts vary, and what to look out for when shopping to protect yourself, and your bees!

An important question to ask yourself: Do you want to keep bees, or become a skilled carpenter? Any wooden bee equipment less than top quality will require you to have what amounts to a small carpentry workshop. So, if you own a router, jigsaw, bench saw, sander, and have lots of time on your hands, then second quality goods are for you!
For those of you who got into beekeeping to have fun looking after bees rather than learning the fine art of carpentry, read on…


Buying ‘SECOND’ Grade Goods: A Nice Way of Saying DEFECTIVE! 
Just when we think we’ve seen it all, we read that a UK beekeeping supplier is selling “third grade” equipment!

Really?

A number of beekeepers have reported back to us what these third grade items were really like. All agreed every item they purchased was unfit for use, and should never have been sold, regardless if they were reported to be “in need of attention.”

“Third Quality” is a poor attempt at clever marketing. Apparently, these shysters hope that if they can create a third level standard, and manage to sell this stuff on, it opens a door to predatory marketing aimed at beginning beekeepers looking to save some money.

So you ask, “But what is wrong with Second Quality hive parts? I’ve bought ‘second hand’ china cups and such, they just had tiny blemishes that were no bother.” Well, china cups and hive parts are a million miles apart. The reason for using only top quality wood parts for working beehives is because knots, splits and warped wood wreaks havoc for our bees.

Here is why:

Knots
Knots are created by a side branch off the main trunk of the tree. It costs more to get a complete piece of wood with no knots. Hence unscrupulous suppliers will try and sneak in hive parts with knots. They paid less for it and charge you more! Higher profit for them, terrible results for you. If you buy your wood in flat-packs, ask the supplier to cut the retaining straps so you can examine the wood for defects. If the supplier refuses, they may have a very good reason: poor wood quality!

The Problems with Knots in the Wood
Even the tiniest of knots will compromise the integrity of the hive. For example, Brood Frames are very important to keep intact. Since we will be handling them often, repeatedly pulling them out, pressing them back, they must be in sound condition. A knot near the lug handles will weaken the entire frame. We have had so many frames break at that weak point of the handle! Your bees will have worked so hard to draw a full comb and fill it, only to have it break, and inevitably, to be thrown away. Such a valuable comb ruined by a tiny defect! The stress that brace combs and propolis put on a brood comb is tremendous. The last thing we need is a substandard frame to begin with. That is a true false economy!

Brood Boxes and Supers
With your boxes exposed to the elements, wet, hot, and dry weather causes the wood to expand and contract. However, the knot will not! In time, it will work itself loose, and now you have an unwanted hole in the box. This will allow wasps, ants and robbing, not to mention making it easy for woodpeckers and mice to find your hive. Refuse knotted wood!

Splits
Look closely at the wood. Unfortunately, some suppliers might try to hide the thin cracks and splits by turning the wood around and strapping them together in a bundle. It is only when you cut the straps that the true condition of the wood is revealed! As a beginner, you may not appreciate just how badly this portends for the long term. Again, boxes exposed to the elements expand and contract. As water enters the crack, it will widen in time. A crack soaked with water, then frozen in winter weather, will expand by 40 percent! This will increase the crack, harbouring mould and providing an open invitation for insects to house in the wood. The life of your beehive is greatly reduced–but your “discount” supplier will not tell you this.

Warped Wood
When shopping for hive parts, this is a real problem. If you’re new to beekeeping you’ll likely blame your carpentry skills when the parts aren’t fitting together. Once you force a warped board into another the stress will cause the wood to split, and the box will not hold up over time, while again allowing free entry to wasps, ants, spiders, woodlice, etc within your hive!

Time is Against You!
It is very important to get the box parts glued and nailed as soon as possible, to lock in the form before the wood begins to move or bend. When you get your flat-packed hive parts, you have around 72 hours to nail them together to be certain no warping will occur. Natural untreated wood carries an ever changing level of moisture. Depending on the temperature and humidity at the production factory, that water content will be initially stable during its life as a raw wooden board. However, once the wood is shipped to you and you put it in a centrally heated room, it can begin to dry out too rapidly, leading to twisting and warping. 

You may notice that the supplier will double strap the super/brood box, hive stand, etc. This is to keep it all together for shipping, and help reduce the warping and movement of the wood. The wood undergoes quite a climate change from milling to packaged product, and if the wood has knots, splits, or soft grain, it will significantly increase the chances of it warping. It could be that the supplier made them in a cold wet warehouse, stored them in a mildly dry cool unit, and then shipped them from there to you.

Many of you will be thinking, “Hang on… Cedar Wood does not warp…”  Unfortunately, we have lost so many boxes in the early years that were made of cedar. They simply could not withstand hard daily use. If you use a hive tool to separate the boxes, and just slightly miss the join between the boxes, your hive tool will gouge and splinter the wood. If we should inadvertently drop a full super on the ground too hard, or knock the edge onto another super stack, the bottom edge splits away. Cedar just does not have the resilience that deal or pine has. We got so to tired of nailing bits back onto cedar hives, we got rid of them and now only use deal. We have deal hives from the 1930s still in operation today. The supplier will try and get you to believe that the great benefit of cedar is that they weigh less. This is true, but cedar’s relative lack of resilience makes it more suitable for a cabinet or shelving rather than a workable beehive.

Twenty years ago, it was the norm to get what we call today “first quality” hive parts. In those days, it was not highlighted since it was the expected basic hive quality. Only a small percentage of hobbyist beekeepers with great carpenter skills chose the “second quality.” Professional beekeepers would not waste their time on anything less than perfect, clean-lined wood parts. They understood the importance of a sound hive. Recently, with the surge in beekeeping interest, and so many new hobbyists trying their luck at beekeeping, the suppliers have seen an opportunity to pass on substandard hive equipment to those who do not know any better. Beginners, having little knowledge of what they should expect, are being taken for a ride. After all, to a “newbie,” all flat-packed supers look the same!

EBAY & Amazon – Good or Bad?
As little as five years ago, there were scarcely any hive parts on either Ebay or Amazon. Now the choices are overwhelming! Many of these items come from countries outside the UK, or even outside of the EU. What’s wrong with that, you say? Plenty!

A square box looks good in the photo, since the price is cheap. As a beginner, you are eager to start and perhaps short of money. So, you shop around, and as most hive parts look the same, you opt for the cheapest ones. Only after they arrive and you compare them with your friend’s beehive do the little drawbacks first appear. 

I have seen a major increase of beehive parts coming out of Eastern Europe, some good, many bad. Very few if any other countries outside the UK use the British Standard hive. But there is a market for it, so they do their best to copy what they think is correct. When you come to interchange those parts the problems becomes painfully clear. They might not line up properly, too big, too small, the inner dimensions of the box does not have the correct bee space, so your bees place brace comb everywhere. This will only become apparent once you use them on a working colony. The worst time to find out!

Below are some photos of the problems we have documented. If you have any bad experiences with suppliers please share them with us. We hope this helps as a buying guide and reference.

Happy Beekeeping
The Hive Honey Shop
All photos copyright protected The Hive Honey Shop Ltd- 2013©


Easy for the beginner to miss! Here the brood box has been joined with a different piece of wood. This is not a single board. It is cheaper for the supplier to glue small off - cuts together to create a single board. The problem is that they are far less durable than the higher quality single complete piece. This is another way an unscrupulous  supplier saves money, but passing the misery on to you!


Again, here is an added piece of wood glued in place. This point of the brood box is very important as you will be prying the box apart at this point. There is no doubt that this glued piece will come apart. When making your purchase, make sure the grain of the wood is going in the same direction,  with no obvious joints.

Here we see the split at the point of the dovetail. This is a stress point and will continue to split in time.

Another example of a split we have filled with glue. It is only a matter of time before the split gets bigger.

This supplier made some National Brood Box inner side boards too long, and some too short. In time, your bees will build brace comb in the gap, or fill it with propolis! Not good.

This supplier sold National Brood Boxes with an inner diameter that was 3 centimetres too large on both sides. Obviously the frames did not fit in the box, yet they sold these to the unsuspecting public. We had to router the sides bars to make them serviceable.

This is a close up of the photo above. You can see just how much wood we were required to remove. 

This supplier made the mistake of not keeping the same measurements for all their dovetail 'fingers'. Some boards had larger fingers, so if you hammer them together, you split the wood. We needed to chisel away approx. 2cm on each finger. It was a time consuming task to right the suppliers mistake. Note the finger on the right. You will see the wood buckling as we tried to hammer it down.

This large knot created a slit as we tried to join the boards. As the hardwood of this knot is within the finger of the dovetail join, if we hammer a nail into that finger, it will crack and break away.

Hoffman Self Spacing Brood Frame. This knot is in the spacer side bar. We were unable to nail it in place so we had to bin it.

More problems with knots. They are brittle hardwood that crack. This will create a spacing problem in time.

This suppler sold frames with  inner grooves that were too narrow. As we tried to slide the foundation in place, the foundation bunched up and torn . They had to be router by us to make them serviceable.

** Share this article with other beekeepers please. www.thehivehoneyshop.co.uk




































Thursday, 24 October 2013

Time To Protect Your Hives!- 5 tips keeping them safe.


Photo copyright© The Hive Honey Shop 2013


There are so many things that bees need to fight off, just to stay alive. You can help these little ones by providing some added protection in October. Heres a brief check list.

1 Wire Mesh Protection
Woodpeckers love beehives. They see the insects flying out and will peck the thin areas of the wooden hive ( mainly the grooved out finger grips) until they produce a good sized hole. They feast on the bees as they emerge one at a time. They will ruin your hive and kill your bees. I have had sites that for years never had any woodpecker interest- then out of the blue all the hives over night have holes. So we need to protect the hives in the Autumn until May time, after that there are plenty of other woodland insects in abundance to interest our woodpeckers and hopefully not our hives. We cover them with smallish chicken wire mesh. It’s easy to remove if we need to inspect a hive. It keeps the woodpeckers a safe distance off our hives. They can be used for many years.


2 Mouse Excluders
Even if you have never seen a mouse- they are out there and will find your hive! A mouse excluder is a strip on metal with holes big enough for a bee to come and go, but ‘excludes’ a mouse. If these are not put on in autumn a mouse will climb into your beehive, via the entrance, and nest there eating one bee at a time until none remain.


3 Paving Slab On Roof
Gale winds can blow a roof off and your bees will get drenched with fallen rain. We did tie the roofs down but found some roofs warped in the winter weather. So we use a heavy paving slab on the top and the weight keeps the roof shape in order as well as providing additional rain guard and wind weight.


4 Fencing & Screening
As hedges die back, hives are exposed. This can present problems. If you have animals near by, they can wander up, knock hives and disturb and stress your bees, who will in turn dwindle and die. Another problem is vandals and robbing of hives. In this current time of a shortage of bees, thief of hives have risen by 25%. It is important- ‘Out Of Sight, Out of Mind’. Screening by natural  means or artificial, provide wind protection, but allows an open air flow without condensation build up.



5 Match Stick Air Gap
Condensation within your hive is a bad thing! Bees die as a result of wet, dank, cold conditions. You can help them by providing ample air flow for them to expel any water vapor build up. A match stick placed across the four corners of the brood box, below the overboard provides a tiny gap, too small for wasps and other bees to enter, but large enough for a good flow through of air.