High above London

We were invited to the roof tops of Fortnum and Mason’s to have a look at the 4 fabulous beehives. It was great to see the hives up close. They are so well made. The bees were all doing very well too. Thanks Steve. Check out the webcams.

The summer is coming

Wallington hive swarmed in early May and I though I had lost the virgin but today I saw 3 frames of brood in all stages. It pays to be patient.

Battersea hive number 1 is doing very well though they are a bit aggressive. Lots of brood. Nectar in the supers but not capped yet. Lots of pollen in the super too which is unusual. No queen cells

Hope Queen’s Park is doing OK. Haven’t had a chance to look yet.

Battersea Number 2 started as a weak colony but is expanding. Marked the queen the other day. 6 frames of bees.

Queen’s Park Bees

The 21st March was one of those sunny, warm days that we had in the middle of all that wet and cold weather so I took the opportunity and had a peek into the Queen’s Park hive. I was very disappointed to see that I had a weak colony. Not terminal but very weak. Only one and a bit frames of bees. I could see a few eggs so I knew the queen was laying. I left them with a feed.

Had a look yesterday (25th April) and I am pleased to report that there are now five full frames of bees. This is good news. Looks like we will be getting some Queen’s Park honey after all.

Spring 09

The daffodils have opened and the chill has gone from the air so it is no surprise to see our landing boards full of bees laden with pollen hurrying into the hive to get that valuable protein back to the newborns. This activity suggests to me that all is well inside the hive for this time of year.
We will need to wait till it warms up a bit more to get inside the hive and have a good look around but with the large amount of pollen I saw this morning I can assume that there is a hungry brood and therefore a good laying queen inside the hive.
This is all good news and means that this hive has survived another winter.

Queen in super again

We had the BBC Newsnight crew over today to film us talking about A World without Bees and they wanted us to open the hive to get some shots of urban beekeepers. I thought we would just go through the motions and open the super and see some honey and the brood that I put up there last week. When we opened the hive we saw brood in all stages in the super. This means that there is a laying queen upstairs – again. I don’t understand why and how she is getting through the queen excluder. Or maybe the hive has two queens. We took away the queen excluder and I will check on things on Friday.

It is all a bit strange.

Newsnight will be aired on the 18th maybe.

Battersea hive and the drone laying queen

After yesterday’s inspection from the lovely man from the Central Science Laboratory it was discovered we had a drone laying queen in the WBC hive therefore the colony was on it way to certain death. Gladly though I had a nuc with a small colony of bees that I had recovered from a secondary swarm a few weeks earlier and was therefore able to use to give new life to the failing WBC hive.

To combine the two hives I took all the contents of the nuc including the queen and placed them into a super on top of the brood box of the WBC separated by a sheet of newspaper. (I had previously taken out the drone laying queen). Overnight the queens pheremone will spread throughout the combined colonies and hopefully the inhabitants will then happily live side by side. The bees will tear away the paper until the workers are free to move between the two sets of frames.

This morning I had a look at the entrance and everything seemed to be normal. No fighting or dead bees.

Tomorrow I will find the queen and put her in the downstairs brood box and give them a feed. Hopefully there is enough time for the colony to expand in numbers before the autumn. Cutting it fine.

 

Queen in the super (cont…)

It all makes sense now.

The seasonal bee inspector paid us a visit today and shed some light on my little problem with the WBC hive. Turns out I have a drone laying queen which means she did not get to mate so lays unfertilised eggs. The workers tear open the cells when they realise that the grubs are males and not females. This will  lead to a failed colony.

Fortunately for me I have a nuc with a healthy laying queen at the ready so I now need to unite the two colonies. Not sure how I am going to do that since I don’t have enough lifts to put onto the WBC to accommodate a WBC brood box. Will figure it out a bit later.

The drone laying queen was the queen I found in the supers after our holiday and I then placed downstairs. It seems to be that I must have had 2 queens in the colony at the same time and the virgin killed her mum and was then trapped upstairs. All a bit strange but a worthwhile experience.

Extracted honey from Battersea

Spent the moring jarring the 5 frames of honey from the Battersea hive and jarring the honey we took off the Wallington hives at the beginning of July. Now have plenty of jars of golden honey. We really must do a farmers market one day soon to free up some cupboard space.

 

Queen in the super

Battersea – I was expecting a super full of honey but instead I got a queen in the super. At least she is a laying queen proven by the brood over a couple of frames.

There didn’t seem to be many bees though so I reckon they swarmed when we were away on holiday.

I replaced a couple of the empty brood frames with the two of the super frames that had the brood on them and placed the queen back downstairs. Leaving the hive with just one super.

 

 

Wallington honey

Dropped into the Wallignton site to give the hives more room for honey.
I had made up three brood boxes with foundation which I gave to the two Nationals and one of the WBCs. The other WBC has two supers and the top one was still empty so left it as it was.

This means that
National #1 has a brood, QE, Super, Brood, Super
National #2 has a brood, QE, Super, Brood
WBC #1 Brood, Super, QE, Super, Super
WBC #2 Brood, QE, Super, Brood

Took away one WBC super full of honey. Harvested the lot this afternoon - a healthy 12 kilos of 11 frames. (See my honey production tables).

 

Queen on the outside of the hive

I enjoy watching the comings and goings of our bees and occasionally have the time to spend a few moments at the side of the hive examining the bees for the type of pollen they are carrying and generally enjoying their activities but yesterday I was surprised to see the queen walking around the outside of the hive.
Surprised is understating my reaction it was more of a shock but I managed to stay calm enough to gather her up and place her on the landing board. The reaction from the other bees was favourable and after having a chat with two or three of them she wandered into the darkness of the hive seemingly quite happy.
So what was going on there I asked myself. I can think of only two explanations; 1. She was returning from a mating flight – but she had no drone parts attached to her body, 2. She was about to leave on a mating flight.
What I want to do now is have a look through the brood box and see if I have a laying queen. If not then maybe this could explain why the queen was outside.
Comments most welcome.

Queen’s Park Local Honey

Dropped into Queen’s Park today and stole 4 frames of honey and replaced them with four frames of foundation.

This leaves the hive with a brood and two supers. The supers have 11 frames in each with 5 foundations in each. Hopefully when we get back from our hols they will all be full.

Spun the honey off this evening and got 3.75 kilos off the 4 frames.

Two Frames of Local Honey

Opened the Battersea hive last night and took off two frames. Freshly capped and looking pristine. Crushed the lot through a sieve and let it drip overnight. This morning the bucket has 1.7 kilos of honey; a light, amber lightly flavoured honey.