Saturday, 13 November 2010

Questions from a Beekeeper- feeding, when and how?

Hello Mike

Nice to hear from you. When your next passing the shop pop in and say hello.
To answer your questions >

Q- Do I continue to feed them?
A- they will keep taking syrup if they need it or have room to store it. We had unusually warm weather for October and bees were still flying out and consuming food stores -hence the continued feeding. But as I write this the weather has turned, the temperature has dropped and I believe you will find that your bees are now clustering up to keep warm and syrup intake has all but stopped. I would suggest you now remove the syrup feeder. At Christmas each year we give a gift of fondant to all our bees as a THANK YOU for all their hard work during the year.

Q- ..but didn’t want to force feed them....
A- You can never force feed bees. They will take it when they need it, or leave it alone if they have collected enough. It's better to provide then not, as they are susceptible to starvation.

Q- Do we just let them be over the winter or is it worth opening up the hive regularly
A- No leave your bees alone during the winter. Any disruptions during the winter will have a very adverse affect on your bees, stressing them and it turn upsetting their balance. Just keep an eye out that high winds do not blow the roof off and also clear dead bees away from the hive entrance. Keep an eye on our 'Beekeeping with The Hive' blog. Subscribe then you don't miss out. I will be posting Winter Maintenance Tips there throughout the year. Hope this helps for now.

Keep up the good work!

All the best

Hi James
I hope all is going well. How was the apple crop? We’ve been picking loads of apple from friends’ trees and trying out chutney/jam/sauces etc and even a bit of cider – that’s another art form.
I did have one query that’s not immediately obvious from all the information (literature, internet etc.). We have been feeding the bees sugar solution in both colonies and they seem to be guzzling it down – I had got the impression that you only needed to feed them for say Sept/Oct then they would hunker down for the winter. Do I continue to provide feed? I assume that they wouldn’t consume it if they didn’t need it… I assume that their continued appetite is a good thing but didn’t want to force feed them. Also, do we just let them be over the winter or is it worth opening up the hive regularly / once a month? I recall reading somewhere that they get disturbed if opened when wet & cold.
Thanks for any tips.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Mouse Guards on Hives NOW!

With the beekeeping season at an end and the weather getting colder, now is the time to put your 'mouse guards' in place. A mouse guard is a long metal strip with holes big enough for your bees to come and go, but small enough to keep mice out.

At this time of year your bees will cluster together to keep warm and are less likely to be on the defence. Bees are cold blooded insects that find it hard to move in cold weather. This is the time when mice will decide to venture into your hives to take up residents for the long winter ahead. They will eat through all your wax combs and eat your bees one by one. When spring arrives all you will find inside your beehive is a pile of bee wings, wax bits and a fat mouse!

Don’t be fooled that you don’t need a mouse guard . I know beekeepers on roof tops that found mice in their hives!

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Wax Cappings feed back to bees

Ever wonder what to do with the wax cappings after you extract your honey? Here's a little tip:

Place your cappings in a mesh straining sieve over a large bowl. Leave this covered with shrink wrap over night to allow the extra honey to filter through the sieve into the bowl. The following night remove the roof of your hive and place the wax cappings in a large circle around the top of the cover board. Place a super or brood box on top to allow extra space and place another cover board on top of that. Place the roof back on.

Now your bees will smell the honey capping, come up through the first cover board and rob clean all the honey from the cappings bringing it all down into the brood box. After a few days you can remove the cappings that will be completely clean and dry. The cappings can then be melted to make polish, candles or cosmetics.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wax moth infestation- 5 ways to prevent this.

Wax moth infestation

We are getting lots of calls to the shop asking what products can be used to destroy wax moth eggs & larva and what can be done to prevent moths getting into your stored wax combs over the winter. Wax moth Achroia grisella are a pest that plague beekeepers throughout Britain. Feeding on honeycombs, they can quickly reduce a weak or unattended beehive to a webbing black mess destroying the combs. A strong colony will keep these moths at bay, chasing them out of the hive.

The adult moth lays its eggs in the combs that hatch into large larva that tunnel through honeycomb, eating the wax and excrement black waste. In its last stages of development the larva will pupates and burrows into any wood surface within the beehive. It forms a cocoon attached firmly to the wood that it will further develop within, emerging as a moth to carry on the cycle. This means any and all wood surfaces are badly damaged. The worst being the frames themselves. The typical area that wax moths burrow into are the underside of the frame lugs. This means that the entire frame structure is compromised as a result and can be thrown away.

What can be done!

Protecting your stored equipment is a must. The Hive Honey Shop designed and developed a special storage bag precisely for this problem. The Super Bee Bag was launched at the 1995 National Honey Show where it received an award for this innovation to beekeeping. The bag is a specially designed heavy duty polythene bag approx. 1.6m tall, enough room to stack 7 supers or 6 brood boxes within. Once the boxes filled with frames are inside you can empty half a cup of Acetic Acid onto an absorbing pad placed on the top box. The fumes of the Acetic Acid fall rather than rise. Wear a mask taking care not to breath the fumes or have contact with your skin. The bag comes with a metal tie. Gather the bag, twist and tie to securely close the bag. The bag will slightly inflate as the Acetic Acid fumes expand, fumigating the boxes, frames and comb. This is a successful method to destroy not only wax moth eggs and larva, but nosema spores, acarine and amoeba contaminated equipment. Well air for 48 hours prior to applying to a live colony. The fumes do not contaminant or leave any traces in the wax or wood.

You can also us paradichlorobenzene commonly know as PDF crystals as a fumigator, however these are not successful on combs filled with honey. Mothballs or naphthlene, a substance also found in air fresheners and insect repellents can be used as long as it does not come in contact with the comb or equipment. Direct contact can accumulate in the wax, which can kill the bees or contaminate the comb. Only use mothballs in and around the area where you store your equipment to discourage moths away from your area.

Freezing the combs is another way to rid any traces of wax moths where the comb will be eaten or sold. Place the entire frame in a large deep freezer and leave it for one week to freeze. Carbon Dioxide is used on a larger scale to fumigate honey filled combs.

Some ‘spray on the comb’ solutions are sold to kill wax moth eggs and larva on the combs. You spray this product on the face of each comb. We only use methods where no contamination or lasting trace elements to the honeycombs can occur. Using this method could result in a build up over time.

To date no traps have been found to completely protect beehives from wax moth infestation. So being vigilant, keeping your equipment clean and well protected is the only sure way to minimise wax moth infestation.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Renew your bee hives now

The weather is just on the change and Autumn is just around the corner. Now is the time to get all your hive parts in shape. Over the next few blogs we will cover what to do with old worn bee hive parts and how to keep them serviceable.

Here we will talk about your hive roofs. It's easy to forget these and they are the important over all protector of your hive, so they need a little TLC ever so often. Rust can form on the steel roof cover and if left untreated it will soon eat away at the metal and holes will appear allowing water inside the bee hive.

At this time of year we always get to work to ensure the roofs go into the winter clean and sound. First if you do discover rust forming on the metal cover use sand paper to remove the rust. A hand orbital sander is much easier and well worth the expense as you will be sanding other hive parts from time to time and this will cut the time spent sanding by half.

After you remove all the rust treat the metal lid cover with WD40 or a similar anti rust oil formulation. Rub it well into the metal and leave it to soak in. Use a blow torch to heat treat and sterilise the inside of the roof. Wipe the wood clean with a rag. If the inner ventilation mesh is damaged, replace it.

Now's the time to sand and repaint or restain the roof wood parts. That's it! Your roof is ready for the long wet months ahead. Do the same in the spring and your hive roof will last many many years to come.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How much time does it take to look after a beehive?

It's a funny thing, the most commonly asked question about beekeeping is 'how much time does it take to look after a beehive'.

I was thinking about how much time I actually spend INSIDE a beehive compared to the 'beekeeping' I do without the bees. In other words beekeeping related tasks for the welfare of a beehive. This involves the maintenance cleaning, repairs, renewing frames, brood/super boxes, extracting honey, bottling, scrapping wax & propolis off equipment, painting, staining, sterilising wood, feeding, protecting the bees from wasps, mice, keeping the apiary site clean, cut and safe......

I realised that only 32% of my time is actually spent handling the bees, 68% of my time is spent in necessary affiliated tasks to maintain the health and prosperity of the colony. So with that in mind, I strongly suggest to all beekeepers to take advantage of this warm dry weather and get all your 2011 beekeeping activities in order now. Make up your brood & super frames now, otherwise you could be caught short when in the spring your bees expand quickly.

Renew all old/damaged hive parts, clean equipment well and store away in a dry place, wrapped well to keep mice and moths out! Its easy to think that now we have extracted all our honey the beekeeping year has come to a close-WRONG. We still need to get all our beekeeping equipment and sites in order now for 2011. I have a tick list of all equipment I have and what I need to buy, assemble etc. It will make your beekeeping spring of 2011 a really pleasant experience this way.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Protect your bees from wasp invasion!

At this time of year wasps have expanded to their largest nest population and are looking for food. Wasps are sugar junkies and as the season comes to an end, so do their natural food resources, hence they turn their attention to robbing. Your beehives offer the perfect solution- sweet honey and sweet honeybees!

Wasps will not only sneak into a hive to steal the honey but will also bite a bee in half and fly away with the abdomen to feed to their colony. If your hive is left unprotected, wasps can quickly outnumber your bees and overrun your colony destroying the hive.

What you can do to help:
1) Put your entrance block in place now. This reduces the entrance and exit point of the hive, making it easier for your bees to guard and protect the entrance from unwanted intruders. (See photo 1.)

2) Put out eco-friendly wasp traps. You can make them yourself or we sell a professional wasp trap that works REALLY well! (See photo 2.) The unit comes with a sachet of powder bait enhancers. We use these throughout our sites with great results. It traps the scout wasps and reduces your site location being reported back to the wasp colony, which would in turn send more and more wasps to attack your beehive.

3) Do not spill any honey, wax comb or sugar syrup near your hive or within your apiary site. Keep all brood frames and supers covered and in bags when not in use.
Simple rule: Keep all apiary equipment clean and covered to avoid attracting bees and wasps to your location. Once they find you its very hard to get rid of them.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Monday, 26 July 2010

The bees are doing really well.

Hi James
The bees are doing really well.
I saw the queen yesterday, she’s laying well and they’re very busy; they’re enjoying the lovely weather.
They’re filling up their first super having almost filled the brood box - I was thinking I might leave the super on over winter to make sure they have enough stores. Is that a good idea?
Thank you so much for such a healthy productive colony.
Hope everybody else’s nucs are equally happy.
Kind regards

Hi Fiona

Really great to hear how well your bees are doing. All the other Nuc buyers this year are reporting back the same. Wow they have expanded in under a month to the size that they are filling a super!? That's really great, your bees are doing well!

Super for over Winter-
Yes if you wish to keep the super on as a winter feed, good idea. I would still feed your bees to get the brood box filled and avoid having pure ivy nectar coming in filling the brood box in September. Ivy honey sets like concrete and bees find it hard to dilute and eat, causing starvation even though the brood box is completely full of honey.

Your doing a great job. Keep up the good work.

All the best

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Surburban gardens can keep bees without posing a risk to neighbours?

Can I infer from your location in Battersea that people with small surburban gardens can keep bees without posing a risk to neighbours? Our small end of terrace garden backs onto a school playing field, so I have assumed that the risk of children (not to mention others who live nearby) getting stung would be much too great. Is that so?

Dear Francis

Good question. The answer is that there are hundreds if not thousands of hobbies beekeepers keeping bees in small urban gardens throughout the UK. I personally know of a few that keep them in close proximity to open public grounds & schools. Many schools themselves keep bees on the grounds for the education of the students.

The best way forward is to buy a few beekeeping books, beekeeping DVD and join a beekeeping course who will teach you how to safely install a beehive in an urban setting. Our beekeeping course covers many areas of setting up your apiary site, how to do this, best locations, choosing the right bees, when to open a hive and much more.

Keeping your own bees is great fun, exciting and obsessive! It's not rocket science, but requires the beekeeper to act responsibly and care for the on going welfare of their bees. Bees are not just for Christmas but for life.

Have a look at our website; 'Beekeeping with the Hive' and our 2011 Beekeeping Course details under products.

Hope that answered your question and good luck with your beekeeping.

Kind regards

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

DIY Honeybee Feeder Bags & June Gap

It's the June gap now. This means that in most parts of England there will be a natural break/ shortage of nectar producing flowers. It's at this time of year that your bee population will have increased considerably during the last nectar flow. Now there are many mouths to feed and short supply of food to go around. If the weather has a turn for the worst then you could find your bees are in great trouble and will need a feed. As in previous pages, please never feed your bees if you have honey supers in place. Always remember to remove all supers, only feed the brood box and only if necessary.

So have a look at your bees and if they have little stores then it is important to feed them to ensure they do not starve to death. Nucs or Nuclei, a small starter colony, will need an ongoing supply of feeding to help simulate the queen to lay and encourage your bees to draw out the wax cells vital as receptacles for eggs, pollen and honey stores. Without a helping hand the colony will develop very slowly if at all during a nectar drought.

I have enclosed a few pictures of simple DIY feeding bags that you can make up well in advance and store away in a bucket for times like this. Pour your cane sugar syrup solution into a sandwich bag, twist the end and tie a knot. Now take a piece of flat narrow wood and using frame nails, nail several through the end of the wood so the nail ends extend out the other side. This will be used to puncture pin holes in the bag. Only hit one side of the bag. With the holes on the top, place the bag on the top of the brood frames. You may need an Eke ( a shallow box surround- approx 1/3 the depth of a super box) to allow enough of a gap between the frames your bag and the coverboard. You can of course just leave off the coverboard and place your roof on.

It's a quick and easy method. Your bees will crawl up on top of the bag and feed from it. The pin holes are tiny and the syrup will not leak out as long as the holes are on the top side of the bag. Bees will suck every drop from the bag until it is bone dry.

We use this method for developing nucs and swarms. If you catch a swarm add a bee fed bag as you hive the swarm. This ensures they will take to your travel box/skep. Also during their swarming activity they use up a lot of their food stores and will be VERY grateful for the helping hand!

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Colony of honey bees have moved into the wall cavity

I live in Sheffield and a colony of honey bees have moved into the wall cavity by the bedroom window. I would like to move them without killing them.Any ideas please?

I enjoyed Jack Watkins' article in the Telegraph and would to call into your shop in Clapha
m sometime soon.Kind regards

Reply- from The Hive Honey Shop

Hi Chris

The bees can be removed without harm, but in a case like this it will require a bit of building construction work. The best way is to get a local beekeeper and a builder together. The builder will need to remove a part of the inner wall to expose the bees nest. The beekeeper will be able to get at the bees and remove them and clean out the honey and beeswax. The bees can then be taken away without any harm to them. We do this kind of removal all the time. If you were near us we could have helped you this time. All bees can be removed without any harm to them as long as you are committed to doing the ground work.

Hope that helps.

Subject: RE: Bees in a wall
Date: 6 June 2010 23:13:21 BST
Thanks John
I will find a local bee keeper to have a look at the nest and go on from there.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Beekeeping Course Ends, Next one in July!

What a great weekend! The weather was just glorious, hot sunny & dry-just perfect for The Hive Honey Shops open air beekeeping weekend course. Sat was off to a great start with a lovely student group of beekeeping enthusiasts. The food was catered by the Hives own chef -Ute throughout the day.

Sunday was even better with the surprise appearance of a prime swarm! The students were introduced to the technique of hiving a swarm, finding the marked queen and putting it all to right. It was a really welcomed bonus to the days learning. All the students were able to open a hive, work it, and examine it in detail under the supervision of James, the head beekeeper.

Ute provided an open air BBQ consisting of grilled salmon, honey glazed chicken, hamburgers, veggie burgers, grilled vegetables and iced cold drinks, which we really needed after getting out of our bee suits!

The final fun came as we handed out The Hive Honey Shop's Certificated of Beekeeping with a glass of bubbling Prosecco to toast the successful completion to the beekeeping weekend.

Everyone had a wonderful time and many have contacted The Hive in preparation to setting up their first beehive next month.

Our next and final beekeeping course for 2010 will be Sat & Sun, July 17th & 18th. Only 8 places left -so Book Now!

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop