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Saturday, 20 June 2009

Adding some brood to the topbar

Here is the topbar hive in its permanent location. There are six lime trees within 50 metres - so I'm hoping for some lovely lime honey.

To help the small colony that I installed, I have added a frame of brood from another (regular) hive. You can see the top of the frame in the pic below.

I was going to remove the comb totally from the frame and attach it to a topbar, but my colleague, Emma, whose hive this will be, persuaded me to leave it attached by just the top.

I have to cut the corners off - but luckily these were just stores, and I put them in the bottom of the hive for the bees to eat and clean up.

The hinge and stay is a masterpiece, and a work of genius (if that's not too immodest a claim). My friend Emma can't lift heavy things like roofs, so the hinged roof is ideal.

There are two 16mm holes for ingress and egress.

And an aluminium roof. There's a brilliant shop in Bath called Avery, Knight and Bowler that sells everything metallic. The 2m x 1m sheet of Al cost £16.

Fingers crossed for the bees. The sealed brood on the comb that I added will emerge in a few days and add to the colony.

Friday, 12 June 2009

New queen is a star

Here is the new star of the show - a lovely big healthy queen, dressed in a delicate shade of fluorescent green - much like the home life of our own dear royal family.

She has layed four frames of brood since she came on to lay about 14 days ago. The photo above shows what a great queen she is. This is the perfect frame, with an arc of brood (the biscuit coloured area) surrounded by stores - pollen and honey. The lighter shaded capped cells are full of honey.

Avid followers of this blog will both remember that this colony was queenless from about 28th April, following the queen wing-clipping debacle.

But it's back on song now, and I'm predicting a good harvest in the autumn.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

First honey harvest

First photo shows the uncapping of a frame. The honey in this one seems a bit darker. See the cappings slide away into the uncapping tray.

I couldn't get the hang of it. Whether to cut on the forehand or the backhand, whether to cut up or down - and let the cappings fall away? It's an awkward job - and sticky.

The extractor, courtesy of Roger who is the engine room of the local bee soc, mentioned in previous blogs. Centrifugal force spins the honey out of the uncapped frames.

Two minor disasters. 1) one frame disintegrated and the comb fell out into the bottom. Had to retrieve it - getting even more sticky - because it was wired foundation and I didn't want the wire to wrap around the spinner. 2) the comb was weak in one frame and just flew out, wire and all. Another sticky retrieval.

Another uncapping - this time of comb on a brand new frame - so cleaner and easier.

See the uncapping tray full of sticky wax. I later put all this sticky gunge into a bain marie and heated it until the wax melted (65 celsius [how do you put the degree symbol into this blogger?]). Let it cool, then pull off the wax, leaving the honey in the pot. That gave me another 1kg of honey - albeit rather cloudy. Gave one pot to my friend Robin who came to help move a hive the next day. Thanks, Robin.

The honey glugging out of the extractor into the settling tank.

Pouring out the last kilo or so into the filter.

A good day - 8.5Kg of honey.

All photos by son Tom - Guardian Award-winning Photographer (did I say that already :-).