Urban bees expand

Blackhorse Apiary’s octagonal bee house

Alison collecting our new nuc
Our nuc with travelling screen
The nuc in its new home waiting to be transferred

It was a hot Sunday when we drove down to Blackhorse Apiaries to collect our two nucs.

John was waiting for us and we had a tea by the side of his octagonal bee shed before looking through our nucs. Fjallraven Kanken Big Both were healthy with marked queen, tn nike lots of bees and brood in all stages.

After discussion about colony collapse disorder and nosema we took our nucs away to their new homes.

More urban bees coming to town

How exciting is this.

We have just put an order in for two nucs and a queen.

We are getting the nucs on Sunday and we will set one up in Alison’s parents garden and the other in my garden.

Then next week we will split the hive we have now and give the new queen to my parent’s.

hive at my place in Battersea

Busy few weeks ahead.

hive at Jenny’s

March 07

Although I have been itching to get into the hive and do the spring clean we have been sensible and waited for the weather to get better.

I did have a look into the hive one warm Sunday a couple of weeks ago and everything looked well.

Here’s a photo.

Cheers Brian and Alison

End of year – update

It may be a busy time of year for us running around buying presents, getting food together for family and friends and over indulging but for the bees the cold weather means huddling together in a ball to keep warm and staying cosy in the hives. Only when the sun comes out and the temperature rises a bit do they venture out for a brief sortie and toilet trip – bees are fastidious about their toilet habits, no inside toilets for them. The gardens of the world are where they relieve themselves.
Yesterday was one such day. Their tiny entrance was chokablock with bees coming and going grateful for the sunshine and the chance to get out and stretch their wings. They are so cute to watch. Out they come, have a little look around, a sniff and possibly a chat with their sisters and then when they are ready push themselves off the hive, fly up and away to do their business in the gardens of urban London. It isn’t possible to tell how long they are away from the hive – we haven’t captured and marked the bees as yet – but since the temperature is around 10C degrees we suspect they are only flying a short distance maybe a garden or two away.
We did notice that today 30th Dec some of the bees were coming back with pollen. nike sb No idea from which flower but it was a light yellow colour. Does this mean the queen is laying?

We took the opportunity to weigh the hive. Well not exactly weigh the whole hive but we attached a spring scale to one side of the hive stand and lifted until the legs came off the floor. Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks The scale read 15 kilos. In itself this measurement doesn’t tell me much but when we repeat the exercise we will be able to deduce how much food is being consumed by the colony and then be in a position to take action if we feel their food supplies are getting short.

Hefting the hive

On the ground below the entrance there are a couple of dozen dead bees in various stages of decomposition. This rather callous resting place just outside the front door is where the bees dump their deceased though I have seen on occasion the bees transporting their dead a little further away in our garden. nike magista pas cher The bees seem to be happy not to dispose of their dead in any other way than an unceremonious kick out the front door. Slightly strange perhaps since their lives are spent as a close knit tight sisterhood where each and everyone play an important role, always working as a team and in constant communication with each other, ready to kill and die for the hive, their queen and each other if danger was ever in their way. nike air max But when one of their own die, it’s a kick out the door and if by chance the corpse had some honey on it they would happily suck up that honey seemingly without noticing that the honey is on their dead sister. Maurice Maeterlinck, 1901 writes in his renowned The Life of the Bee; “In the midst of the marvels of their industry, their policy, their sacrifice, one thing exists that must always check and weaken our admiration; and this is the indifference with which they regard the misfortunes or death of their comrades”
This may be a little harsh since we can’t know what the bees are thinking and how they deal with death but they at least dispose of their dead outside the hive.

Soon it will be January and the queen is known to start her laying again even though the winter is still with us. Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks Sale UK Our urban bees have the advantage of the urban heat island effect keeping the cities warmer than the surrounding country and hence making the winters shorter.

Bees first TV appearance


June 7 – continue assembling the frames – why can’t I hit a nail straight?- and make a sugary solution that is the bees’ welcoming meal. Fjällräven Kånken You dissolve a bag of Tate and Lye [can’t be Silver Spoon, because that’s from beet and bees have to have sugar from the cane] a bit at a time in loads of water until it is clear; takes ages and lots of stirring. I try to finish this before the TV crew arrive. I had a call yesterday from Roots and Shoots asking if they could pass my details to BBC London News which wanted to film a new young(ish) urban apiarist. Keeping bees is, allegedly, the latest fad. Why not? So here they are, the slick TV presenter and the gentle cameraman, to film me and my bees. The Live Bees travelling box (perfect for TV) goes down well. nike magista They film me assembling the frames, wrongly – but you can’t see that I’ve done it the wrong way round on film – and I give some spiel about wanting to keep bees because it’s my contribution to saving the planet. Well that is partly true, but it sounds stupid. Then I get togged up, light the smoker (they love that as well) open the hive, put in the extra frames I’ve just made, and tell them about my neighbours reaction. Fjallraven Kanken NO.2 Backpack ( I did tell them this morning and they were fine about it, actually they were half asleep so not sure they understood what I was talking about).

After a couple of hours the filmcrew leave and I open the hive again and put the feeder on top hoping that I’ve placed the piece of cardboard in the correct position to stop the bees drowning in the solution. I’m still amazed that the bees don’t cover me from head to foot, but they are far too busy.

Although I can now assemble frames, it turns out that I still can’t set my video recorder so I miss the bee report on BBC London News. I try to download it, but my computer skills aren’t up to much either. basket nike air max A friend comes to the rescue and I eventually see it. nike air max 95 Brian downloads it in Cape Town but all he says he can see are the yellow Marigolds.

Moving in

We leave the travelling box on top of the hive so the few remaining stragglers will get the idea about where they are supposed to live. nike air max pas cher

Bee man then gives me my first ever woodwork lesson. Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks Sale UK It’s called assembling the frames for the hive. nike tn For someone who can’t put together IKEA flatpacks, he’ll have to be a pretty amazing teacher. cheap fjallraven kanken Backpack Luckily for my bees he is.


I call Brian in Cape Town to tell him the good news that we are the proud ‘parents’ of 10,000 plus bees – he’s just as excited as me. Mochilas Fjällräven Kanken Tienda Bummer he’s not here, though it means I’ll have to learn more myself.

The pick up

June 6, early evening – they come in a wooden box marked Live Bees, written in red paint, with two pieces of blue string either side to carry. There is a lid on the box. I pick it up rather nervously conscious of the numbers inside. I’m told it’s a big swarm, more than 10,000. air max 1 og I place it in the boot of the car and drive off. As I drive round Hyde Park corner on my way back from Kennington, I hear a thud. nike air max homme Shit! I look in my mirror only to see to my horror that there are bees buzzing around in the back of the car! I manage to somehow pull over, and get out the car to take a closer look at what’s happened. nike air max 95 The box has fallen on its side (why didn’t I wedge it in?) and lots of bees are clinging to the box or flying around. Shit, what now? I call Bee man (chair of the London Beekeepers’ Association). “Oh dear”, he says and then calmly tells me not to panic. That’s easy for him to say. Fjallraven Kanken UK “The bees aren’t interested in you, just drive home,” is his advice. I decide to open all the windows as it’s a warm evening and I know that hot bees equal angry bees. Just hope I don’t lose the queen.

Bee man is right. I get home unscathed. Most of the bees have managed to get back into the box, so I put on the Marigolds and carry the box through the flat into the garden and place it in front of the hive. They do sound very angry, if that’s what a loud, high pitched buzzing noise means. I have visions of them escaping in the communal hallway and attacking the neighbours, whom I haven’t yet told about my new pets. Bit of an oversight on my part, but I will tell the couple upstairs with the two year old, tomorrow morning!

Bee Man is most congenial, with a smiley face and the remnants of a thick grey beard. I put on my burka-style bee outfit, he dones just a hat and veil, not even gloves. He removes the lid of the box and gently removes one of the three frames inside and transfers it to the hive. I transfer the next two. The bees don’t seem at all bothered by us. I thought they’d be all over my bee suit but they’re not. basket nike This is not too scarey afterall. nike tn He gives the box a good shake above the hive so the bees that weren’t on the frames fall into their new home. We put the few frames that Brian had made before his departure (not the 11 he was supposed to have done) into the hive and put the lid on.

Where’s the boyfriend when you need him?

June 6, morning – weather has been glorious for the last few days. nike air presto I receive an unexpected call on my mobile informing me that Roots and Shoots (the ecological centre where we went on our one-day bee keeping course) have a swarm of bees. Do I want them. nike air max 2013 If so, can I let them know whether or not I can pick them up, that evening. Help! of course I want them but I’d expected Brian to be here and to be honest I don’t know if I’m up to the job on my own. After much deliberation, I call and explain my predicament and ask if they know anyone who lives in my vicinity who’d be willing to lend a hand. nike running homme They give me a number of a guy who went on the same course as myself. Mochilas Kanken No.2 He is terrified by my suggestion. All he can offer is good luck. I then contact the London Beekeepers’ Association, which I’d joined a few months earlier for this very reason. nike dunk After numerous emails and telephone messages the chair, who rather fortuitously lives in Acton, agrees to show me how to transfer the bees from their travelling container to my empty hive.

Hive located

Early May – we decide to locate the assembled hive at the back of the garden. Brian starts to assemble the 11 frames on which the queen will lay her eggs and the worker bees will deposit the pollen and nectar on which the larvae will feed. I start reading the bee book so that I have some idea what to do when the first 10,000 bees arrives.

After a short spell of good weather I expect a call to say there is a swarm waiting for us. No call comes. Although it’s been an unseasonably cold and wet May, I assume that if the bees haven’t arrived before Brian leaves for Cape Town on the 22nd then they won’t.

Hive talking

One of the great things about having bees is that you have something new to talk about with
your friends. Fjallraven Kanken Classic Forget house prices and the football results, Mochilas Kanken Baratas or bringing out your holiday snaps (although that’s all digital now). Mochilas Fjallraven Kanken No.2 After a fine Sunday lunch, nike air max 1 Brian shows our guests what happens on a super (honey) frame. nike air max 2017 Here’s one the bees made earlier,

Bedding down for winter

It’s now November and the clocks have gone back, the nights are getting chilly and the leaves are beginning to fall so not surprisingly the bees are tucking themselves in for the winter. Nike Air Max 1 Femme There isn’t too much for us to do at this time apart from making sure the hive is as cozy as can bee. soldes nike air max 2018 So recently we made sure that the hive was well and gave the bees a feed of some thick sugar water solution. air max 1 og This sweet drink, much like the nectar from the flora, gives them the chance to store up excess honey for the cold winter months ahead.
After reading a bit and speaking to fellow apiarists at the National Honey Show last month we decided to take away our Varroa screen for the winter which made it easier for us to close the entrance down to just a finger width opening. nike pegasus Easily enough room for the bees to come and go on those rare sunny days we get in winter but small enough to stop unwelcome visitors looking for a warm and sweet place to raid.
They were looking healthy and well and we hope that they will flourish in the spring and continue to produce the most wonderful urban honey.

They look so sweet as if they are waiting for the starting gun.

Alison behind the hive with the reduced opening. nike tn The opening is that little black hole towards the bottom left of the hive.

Here’s one of our bees laden with pollen.

Urban drone bee


This is a drone bee. Harmless since it does not have a stinger. nike air max pas cher It is the male bee whose purpose is to mate with a queen. Once it does this it dies.


Looking into the hive. Kanken Kids UK This is were the juvenile bees are busy looking after the brood, nike internationalist the queen is laying her larvae and the comb is filled with pollen, Fjallraven Kanken UK honey and larvae.


The frame showing the white capped comb; full of honey, Kanken Mini UK the brown capped comb; full with a growing larvae,

We love the honey, mummy…

Just wanted to share the feedback we’ve had about our honey which we gave away to friends, nike air max 2012 family and work colleagues. Fjallraven Kanken Cheap Comments have ranged from “This is the best honey I have ever tasted” to “This is the best honey I have ever tasted”. nike air max 2015 We’ve even had children and adults begging for more. nike air max homme Alas, nike air tn there are only a couple of jars left to keep myself and Brian going during the winter months. nike air max 1

Several recipients have suggested that they contribute to a whip round to buy us an extra hive so there will be a lot more honey next year.

All I can say is well done bees,

Why bees?

People keep asking me ‘why do you want to keep bees?’ It’s difficult to explain.
I’ve always secretly fancied myself as Felicity Kendal in The Good Life? Well maybe a little bit but I don’t do all the other things like grow my own food, I get one of those organic boxes delivered.
I’ve always loved honey? Yes, that’s true, but I’m not keeping the bees primarily for their tasty secretions.
It’s partly about creating a little corner of the countryside in W9. cheap fjallraven kanken Backpack After all, my cottage-style garden looks like a meadow in the spring and a beehive completes the pastiche.
It’s partly because I like bumblebees – because they’re furry and synonymous with a perfect English summer’s day – and knowing nothing about honeybees, I thought they were the same thing!
But the main reason for my new hobby is that I read an article a couple of years ago which said around 70% of the food that we eat depends on bee pollination and that bees are threatened by intensive farming and urban sprawl, so it seemed an easy way to save the planet.
What turned this nice thought into action, however, was my new boyfriend. basket nike tn For my birthday, Brian bought me a beekeeping book and paid for us both to go on a one-day introduction to beekeeping course at Roots and Shoots. nike roshe run At the end of the day, I was hooked. nike chaussures We saw their hives and the bees coming and going. Fjallraven Kanken NO.2 Backpack It didn’t need to be difficult or technical – although some men seem to turn beekeeping into a biology lesson. nike air max 1 There were people on hand to help. I joined the London Beekeepers Association and signed up for a swarm of bees.