Tuesday, 18 October 2011

If you like us-please nominate us for London's Best Food Shop awards!

The Hive Honey Shop has been nominated by readers of LONDON
Magazine for the 2011 London's Best Food Shop awards. So if you like what we do then please support us with a quick nomination click of the button! Its takes just 3 seconds and you will help support our little local shop!

click on the: Nominate your favourite shops for The London Magazine’s Great Little Shop Awards

In return you are given the chance to win a Rodial Beauty Bag worth £300!
Good Luck and Thanks!
From The Hive staff and our bees!

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Hive Honey Shop Win 2011 Best Regional Honey Award!

Last night The Hive Honey Shop were awarded one of the top honey awards, the Regional Honey Award at the London Honey Show. Entries from all the London regions were entered and The Hive scooped the top prize.

James, our veteran bee expert, was there to accept the award, a beautiful silver plated honey dipper. The event has hosted at the prestigious Lancaster London Hotel W2, organised by Jo Hemesley, corporate Senior Sales Manager for the Lancaster London.

James said,' It was a brilliant show with lots to see and do. The atmosphere was alive with excitement and bee talk. everyone had a great time. We at The Hive Honey Shop are delighted to be awarded the Best Regional Honey Award for our local Clapham SW London Honey. It was a difficult competition with entries from all the regions, North, South, East and West London. We are very proud of our London bees and the amazing nectars they gather from the vast parks and gardens. We are looking forward to taking part in the London Honey Show next year"

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Thursday, 6 October 2011

1st Annual London Honey Show at the Lancaster London Hotel.

Ever wondered why London Honey is so great? Want to meet London Beekeepers and learn how you can keep bees yourself? Well wonder no more, its here! Bring your friends and family- Free entry for all!

The London Honey Show with the support of the London Beekeepers Association will take place at the Lancaster London Hotel in the Westbourne Suite on the 10th October 2011. Opens 6pm-9pm. The Address is: Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY

This will be the first year for the London Honey Show – the aim of the show is to welcome beekeepers and member of the public to the event for a bee related evening.

There will be 4 guest speakers and a wide selection of exhibitors. The evening will end with prizes being awarded for the winning honey in each of the categories and the ‘crowning’ of the London Beekeeper of the year.

For more information click this link to the host of the event the Lancaster London Hotel.


Saturday, 17 September 2011


Just out yesterday picking apples in the sunshine! Wow what a great day! Picked another 10 apple varieties from the 80 we have. Can't describe the feeling of biting into a rare apple, say a Pitmasons Pineapple, tiny apple that tastes like a pear/pineapple. Then a strawberry/loganberry taste of the Bloody Ploughman and on and on...

The apple trees were planted as a food source for the bees on site. Now 15 years later the fruit is amazing. Of course the apple blossom pollen and honey is fantastic too.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Hive DIY Tip- how to avoid damaging foundation during frame making.

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

If you are anything like me I despair when I slightly tear a perfectly good piece of foundation while making up brood frames. Once you tear or badly distort the foundation your bees will avoid this area when drawing out the cells. This will result in either holes or distorted areas on the finished face of the comb. These holes in time can hide queen cells or the queen and will in a short time need to be replaced.

Tips to help!

1) When nailing together your frames don't line up the bottom bars exactly to the outer edge of the side bars. Leave a slight gap, resulting in making the inner dimensions of the frame slightly wider. This will allow your wax foundation sheets to slide more easily within the grooves of the side bars when fitting.

2) Put your foundation sheets in the fridge prior to fitting them in the frames. This will make the wax sheets more rigid and they will slide/handle more easily when fitting them in the frames. Avoid a warm room as your wax foundation will sag and rip more easily when handling each wax sheet.

Hope that helps- let me know if it works for you or any DIY tips you found useful!

all the best

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Question Came In- Ventilation while feeding bees!

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Dear James,
I have a question that I would appreciate your advice on.
Following the collection of the nuc from you 5 weeks ago, I have been regularly feeding the colony with syrup by way of a frame feeder. Now that I have a Ashforth feeder, I note that by using this type of feeder the roof ventilation will be shut off. Is this correct or is there an alternative means of providing ventilation at the roof? There is a supply of air at floor level by means of the varroa floor. The bees appear to be collecting and returning with pollen (various colours) from foraging flights, there are also stores of pollen within the frames.
In addition, whilst cleaning the removable floor I disturbed two caterpillars which appeared to have cocooned themselves in debris which have fallen through the hive floor. I attach a couple of photos from which I hope you will be able to identify and advise.
I appreciate this may be an imposition on my part, but any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards,


There is more than enough airflow in a beehive. The roof vents come into play during the long wet winter months allowing condensation to escape and not build up within the hive. The fact that you have an open mesh varroa floor means you have ample air flow.

The photo of the caterpillars are in fact Wax Moth Larva- a very destructive pest to beekeeping. A moth lays her eggs in the wax debris and the eggs hatch, feed on the decaying hive litter, grow in numbers and eat through the wax combs and wooden frames, making a mess of your hive. The cocoon is the remaining open shell from an emerged moth.

So to avoid a wax moth invasion, clean the hive floor regularly and remove any wax moth larva from your hive. Protect your stored equipment by sealing supers with drawn comb in plastic sacks and use acetic acid ( 1/4 cup) on a piece of carpet placed on top of the stored supers/brood boxes. Seal the bag. Careful not to inhale the fumes, do it outdoors. Then in the spring air the equipment for 24 hours before placing them on a hive full of bees.

Hope that helps. Keep an eye out for our next article about buying equipment safely and the pit falls to avoid!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Here's a question that just came in about our Wasp Trap Method

Here's a question that just came in!

This is an old post, so you probably are no longer there.
If you are, can you tell me how you keep the trap from
capturing your bees as well as the wasps? Thank you. em
By Anonymous on Danger-WASPS!- protect your hives on 26/07/11

Answer: Because you will be making a liquid bait that consists of Beer, Jam and Water- Honeybees & Bumblebees will not be interested but repulsed by the smell. Wasps are carnivorous and love the smell of decaying meat, fruit etc. So this bait attracts flies, moths and wasps.

Hope this helps. Keep watching our blog! We have a great article about buying beehive parts that is a must read for the beekeeping beginner!! Coming soon!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Urban London Roof Top Beekeeping!

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

You can keep bees just about anywhere really. Here's a few photos of our London Roof Top Beekeeping. We have been keeping bees in central London for over 25 years with great results and lots of honey! The key point to a successful urban apiary is- Buy bees from a professional bee breeder. Pedigree bees mean calm, docile lovey bees, that make for a lovely beekeeping experience for both you and your neighbours.

Don't be fooled by people offering bees at knock down prices- you get what you pay for. Have an in depth talk with the bee breeder asking them what kind of bees they are, where they come from, how old is the queen bee. Interview the seller and ask lots of questions. Just because they have been keeping bees for 30 years does not mean that they are qualified to sell bees. Never buy a swarm of bees. They are of an unknown origin and of unknown attributes.

Next select your site and position the hive so that the flight pattern is pointing away from public foot paths, windows or any area where people will gather. Common sense advance planning is highly recommended.

The Hives Rule of Thumb: Out of sight, Out of mind.
If people can't see the hives they will not complain. Most urban disputes come from the public worried that, bees in an area mean stings. UNTRUE. Again common sense management of the hive i.e. pick a good time to open and inspect your hive when there are likely to be few people around. Avoid opening your hive at noon on a Sunday when all your neighbours will be in their gardens.

Be Well Prepared.
Take a beekeeping course, read lots of beekeeping books, search the web. After you understand what's involved with beekeeping, then its time to buy the beehives-not the bees! Get all your equipment assembled and in place. Get all your protective cloths, hive tools, gloves etc. Now that you have all the bits and pieces that make up your apiary, then you can plan to buy the live bees.

Best Time.
Best time to buy bees is in the spring, around May/June. This gives your bees plenty of time to build up and expand to a full colony before the winter sets in and the population begins to decline in preparation for the winter break ahead.

So why not give urban beekeeping a go. Its fun and interesting and bees will find the nectar, you don't need to plant any special food plants for them. They can fly up to a 3 mile radius. City beekeeping is one of the most practical urban farming pursuits around.

Subject: [Beekeeping with The Hive Honey Shop] New comment on Urban London Roof Top Beekeeping!.
Date: 23 August 2011 11:31:23 GMT+01:00
very sound advice guys and i can't agree more. as urban bee keeping takes off here in Australia it would be good to see them all following your advice. do keep me posted on your news. Will be spreading news of your site around here in Australia. stay in touch. all the best. lyndon

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bees are doing amazingly well!-from Ursula

Dear James
Just a note to say that the bees are doing amazingly well, they`ve built out almost 5 frames already and the queen is certainly doing her thing!!!
Unfortunately our colony from last year (not from you) is sadly in fast decline, so we were wondering if we`re too late for another nuc. I`ve reccommended you to several people on my practical course so you`ve probably sold out.
Many thanks in anticipation

Dear Ursula

Really great to hear the nuc you got from us is doing so well. We have a few nucs still left. When we nurture the nuc for you we do not release them until they are really strong and healthy, so it's no surprise that you now have a full on colony. They are now in a position to collect you surplus honey now- rare in the first year!

Remember- you get what you pay for.
Many people offering 5 frame nucs for sale really just make up 2 frames of brood & bees, then 1 frame of eggs and stores with 2 frames of partly drawn foundation if that. Not what professional bee breeders consider a viable full 5 frame nuc, nor should you.

If you buy from elsewhere in the future a word of advise.

1 Always ask of the 5 frame nuc what will you actual get within the frames.
2 Have they been treated for Varroa? (we do)
3 Will they go through the nuc with you, showing you the queen, eggs, brood? (we do)
4 Is the queen this years queen, marked and clipped? (we do)
5 Has their apiary/breeding area been recently checked by DEFRA/FERA (ours has)
6 Is the queen from a known pedigree or from their stock. This is important as many will catch a swarm and once the queen is laying, sell it on. This is not of a known source, could carry disease, bad tempered and of a swarming nature. If they make up nucs from swarm cells from their bees, then perhaps the trait of those bees lean heavily towards swarming!- not what you want from a paid nuc.

Many new comers to beekeeping see that there is money to be made in selling bees. As professional breeders we are concerned the general public will be taken advantage of and that unsuitable, rogue bees will begin to mass populate, passing on undesirable genes to free mating queens.

Our golden rule is: Buy the best bees and beesuit you can afford!

Hope this helps and please pass this around to others thinking of buying bees.

All the best

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Beeswax Collection- How to do it!

There are many ways to collect and clean your beeswax. A simple solar beeswax melter is a handy hobbyist solution. It consists of a simple box with glass double glazing in the lid. Angled towards the sun it uses the suns rays to melt and naturally bleach the colour of the wax back to its light golden colour. Many large wax refineries use acid to bleach the wax which is not great if you wish to make cosmetics with your beeswax or candles.

The other method is using steam to melt your wax through muslin cloth. We use a large stainless steel steam melter to sterilise our frames and reclaim the wax. The high temperature of the steam kills nosema spores, wax moth eggs and other moulds and yeast's that could be harbouring in the wood or wax. We use our large steam extractor for the first crude filter followed by our smaller steam extractor for the final fine filtering.

                                           photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Monday, 9 May 2011

Hello I have a question to ask you about your NUCS

From: oliver


Date: 9 May 2011 14:41:52 BST

Hello I have a question to ask you about your NUCS, is it possible for you to do them with commercial frames or do they just come in national? my second question is do you sale just NUCS or do you sale colonies also? many thanks. oliver.

Hi Oliver

We only do nucs on standard national frames. They will fit your commercial brood box of course. There will be a gap under the frames as a commercial brood box is deeper. We get people ordering nucs from us that run commercial hives. They put our 5 national frames in the centre of the commercial hive with commercial brood frames on either side. Once the bees occupy the commercial frames, then you can shake them off the national frames and put a queen excluder on top of the commercial brood box and put our national frames in a brood box above. The bees will hatch and join the others below, then remove the brood box with the national frames and you now have them all on commercial frames!

Sorry we only sell nucs at present.

Hope that helps. We are selling the nucs quite quickly so do decide soon to avoid disappointment.

Kind regards


Saturday, 9 April 2011

3 Top Tips For The April Beekeeper!

Every year I am caught out by the sudden change in weather and the sudden arrival of warm days. Yesterday was the first real warm day of the year and all the trees blossoms seemed to have exploded into life.

As a result the pollen is flowing and honeybees are working fast at building up their colonies. Many calls to the shop have reported beekeepers having their bees swarm. So work fast and do these 3 April points now!

1- Remove the mouse excluder.
Your bees need room to get in and out with all the fresh new pollen. If we get a very cold snap, you can consider placing it back during that period.

2- Super up.
If your colony of bees are occupying 6 frames or more, then its time to give them extra room. Remember if bees feel cramped and out of space to grow, they will produce queen cells in preparation of swarming to make room. So always give them plenty of room.

3- Provide a water source.
Your bees will now be looking to feed on the remaining winter honey. Much of it will have set very hard in the comb and your bees will need to collect water to dilute it so they can feed from it. Bees do not prefer clean tap water. So prepare a vessel, pond, birdbath, bucket well in advance. Fill it with logs, leaves and moss. Fill with water. Remember bees like old water because there will be many minerals in the water from broken down organic materials.

Keep watching here for more seasonal tips!

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dividing a hive to make a new hive- Here's How!

On 5 Apr 2011, at 09:56, Rob wrote:

Hi James,
Wondering if i could pick your brains for some advice please ?
I brought a nucleus from you last year, which is now a thriving healthy colony that i am looking to split this spring. I keep the hive on my roof in Earlsfield. So far it’s worked really well but I’m keen to try and avoid them swarming and the problems this might cause in an urban area. The neighbours are nicely on side but a swarm of bees in their back garden might test neighbourly relations.
I’d also like a second colony to take to the moors in August to take advantage of the heather. So I was thinking i could get the best of both worlds by splitting the hive early in the season, avoiding a swarm by giving the existing colony more room and gaining an extra one that would have time to build upto full strength by August.
So I guess my questions are :
Does the above plan make sense?
Do you have a proven method to go about it ?
Many thanks for your help / advice.
Best Regards

Hi Rob

Really glad to hear the nuc you bought from us is doing so well. Reports back from other buyers are the same, fast build up and good health coming out of the winter. Well done for looking after them so well.

Dividing A Hive
This is a common practise among beekeepers for all the reasons you have just described. Its a very straight forward method. Here's how.

Once the colony begins to develop in size, not too soon, give them a chance to grow to around 40,000 bees with lots of sealed brood (average hive is around 60,000). Find the queen and place her in a queen cage so you know where she is and safely out of the way. Remove five or six frames and place them in the centre of your new empty hive. Depending on the amount of frames of sealed brood (if lots, then remove lots) place them in your new empty brood box. Your trying to reduce the amount of emerging bees to the original hive. Remember the bees that will emerge first will be from sealed brood. Removing those frames will lessen the pressure of early over population of the hive and reduce the possibility of swarming. Typically you will remove:

A- 2 x frames fully sealed brood.
B- 2 x frames of open brood, eggs and sealed brood. Make sure there are EGGS as this hive will be queenless and need to make a new queen. No eggs, no new queen!
C- 2 x frames of honey stores
D- No Queen

Now that you have the queen safely in a cage in your pocket. Take each frame from the original hive and shake the bees off the frame into your new hive box. Do this to all the frames, shaking the bees into the new brood box. Fill up the remaining brood box with frames of drawn comb or foundation. Put a feeder on and keep feeding until all the frames are drawn out and 1/4 filled with stores.

Go back to your original hive and slide the remaining frames central in the brood box. Put frames of drawn comb or foundation each side filling the gap. Now gently release the queen back into her original hive. Do not shake her out of the cage as you might fling her outside the hive instead of inside. Put the coverboard back in place and feed this hive as well. NEVER FEED OR MEDICATE A HIVE WTH HONEY SUPERS IN PLACE. Always do this well before or well after the honey flow.

Now most all the old flying bees will fly back to the original hive, rejoin the queen and carry on. The new hive you have made will be full of young bees capable of creating queen cells from the eggs. Then all you need to do in 14 days is remove all but 2 sealed queen cells. Never just leave 1 cell as it might just be the only one that is unviable. The first queen out will win!

So now you have controlled swarming on one degree, made two colonies and they are in a fit state to begin the season. Once the new colony has a laying queen with sealed brood from her, you can move them to the new location if you wish.

There are many many ways to divide, create colonies, rear queens etc. It comes with time and practise. This is why beekeeping is so fun, exciting, challenging and grabs the imagination of the beekeeper. It's every changing which keeps you on your toes. Really never a dull moment!

Hope that helps and good luck with your beekeeping this year. Keep up the good work!

Kind regards

On 5 Apr 2011, at 13:50, Rob wrote:

Hi James,
Thats great , many thanks for the quick response. I had to read it a couple of times, but i’m with the picture now, and looking forward to attempting the split ! I’ll let you know how i get on.
I’m thrilled to bits with the Bees and really enjoying looking after them. Have been amazed at how good natured they are. I was expecting world war 3 everytime i went in the hive. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Best Wishes

photo copyright 2011 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Friday, 11 March 2011

Honeybees never seem to get a fair break!

Its amazing bees can survive at all with all the things out there preying on the poor little honeybee! Take the case last week. We went out to one of our apiary sites to find the hives had been attacked by woodpeckers. We have had this site for over 20 years and never a woodpecker to be seen, but no longer.

We really take care and look after our bees well and every autumn we put the bees in newly cleaned, dry beehives. All the wood is nicely heat sterilised and in the case this year, we put them all in brand new hive boxes. They looked perfect and the bees were very happy- until last week!

We arrived to find all our perfect hives had big holes in the sides, wood torn away and the mouse excluders pulled off. In some cases the entrance to the floors were pecked away. Woodpeckers!

Woodpeckers are very clever birds. Notice in the photos, they have only attacked the narrow handle grooved cut outs. This is because its narrower and easier to get though. They tap along the wood and listen for the sound of a thinner layer of wood and work on that area. In the wild that would be an area of a trees dead wood, indicating a hollow, likely to house insects a favourite food. The birds tapping stresses and alarms the bees within the hive. When a hole is finally perched though the wall of the hive, the woodpecker simply taps a few times and waits. A little bee will pop out to investigate and the woodpecker eats it. The woodpecker will keep going until either they eat all your bees or stress the bees so much that your bees will eat their honey stores (trying to save what they can in a time of attack) and starve to death.

SO... we went to work on lots of hives. Once woodpeckers find your hives, thats it, they never leave. So what to do? Protect each hive with chicken wire. It takes a lot of time, but its the only thing you can do to save your bees. First you need to repair the damage and make it secure once more for your bees. Fill all the holes with a two part external resin compound. You can place a piece of thin metal nailed on the inside of the hive if the hole is very large. Sand it flush and repaint or stain the outside again to make it weather proof. Now you need to cover the hive with the chicken wire. The mesh is wide enough to allow the bees to freely enter and exit, but will inhibit the woodpecker from getting at the sides of your hive. Once they try a few times without success, hopefully they will give up and go away.

Use a piece of wood on the top of the hive to keep the mesh away from the sides of the beehive. The trick is to keep the wire mesh as far away from the sides of your beehive as possible. We then prop a piece of wood between the mesh and the handle groove. This creates a space between, making it harder for the woodpecker to get at the beehive.

Lastly we place our plastic decoy Pond Crane on patrol. We put it on a post and move it around the hives each week so the woodpecker does not learn its a fake. This seems to keep the woodpeckers at bay.

Believe me once you have repaired and mesh wrapped 50+ hives like this, you will never be able to look at Woody the Woodpecker in the same way again!

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop