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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Bait hive has worked for the first time!!

First time a bait hive has worked for me.  I have swarms arrive and take up residence in piles of bee boxes, where they weren't welcome, but never into a pre-prepared hive.

-photo to follow-

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Bee hives on Greek Island of Naxos

There are 4,000 hives on the island.

Here are just a few.

What I like is the painting on the front.  Bees navigate by sight and so if all 100 hives are identical and close to one another, there can be a lot of "drifting" - that it, bees going back to the wrong hive.

Not sure of the implications, but obviously any disease will spread more rapidly and I think it might encourage robbing.  Perhaps some of my Greek followers can help.

Honey from these hive will be mainly from sage, thyme and other flowers that can survive the semi-arid conditions.  It is wonderfully aromatic - and perfect for adding to Greek yoghurt for breakfast.

Meet me on Saturday at the Corsham Food Festival

I shall be manning the Transcoco Community Bees stand at the Corsham Food Festival

I'm taking orders for honey this year.  Last year I actually had some for sale - OSR honey - but it was to  be the only honey I got last year.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The two faces of hypocrisy

On the back cover of today's Guardian newspaper.

A nice, warm, bee-friendly advert for B&Q.  Aw, bless.

In our local branch of B&Q, in the entrance, 30 litres of Bayer Provado, which contains Thiacloprid, a neonicitinoid, recently banned by the EU.

In this display there is enough pesticide to kill all the bees in the UK, 750 times over.
In 2012, several peer reviewed independent studies were published showing that neonicotinoids had previously undetected routes of exposure affecting bees including through dust, pollen, and nectar[34] and that sub-nanogram toxicity resulted in failure to return to the hive without immediate lethality,[35] the primary symptom of CCD. (Wikipedia)
Sub-nanogram toxicity disables a bee.  In this display pack there are 30 litres at 15% solution.  That makes 4500 cc of the substance. A nanogram is 1 billionth of a gram. So with this display we can kill 4,500,000,000,000 bees.

There are about 200,000 hives in UK managed by beekeepers who register on Beebase.  Taking these alone, that gives us about 6,000,000,000 bees.

Photo taken in B and Q Chippenham 11.05.13

Way to go, Bayer and B&Q!  You are selling, in just one store, an overkill of 750 times the UK bee population.

Of course, I am exaggerating for effect.  Not every drop would come in contact with a bee.

But the point is this: there is absolutely no need (beyond the commercial interests of Bayer and B&Q, that is) for domestic sales of these lethal products.

B&Q should withdraw them now.

Yeah, "say bye bye to bugs" indeed.

Monday, 22 April 2013

First inspection of 2013

Last year (2012), there were swarms before the end of March.  Temperatures of 17c+ throughout that month encouraged the growth of colonies.

Not so this year: the first day that is was warm enough to open the hives was Thursday, April 18th April.

Good news, and not so good.  Normal for beekeeping.

My polyhives are doing fine.  I found and marked queens in four hives.

My polynuc is a mystery.  There seems to be new bees (i.e. looking young and furry, rather than bald and black) but no sign of the queen, and no eggs.  So I think she is recently departed. I will inspect again in a few days.

The two wooden hives both are queenless, with laying workers (only brood is drone brood, recognisable because it is lumpy rather than smooth.  So that saves me the planned task of shaking the colonies in the wooden hives into their nice new warm polyhives.

So I am back to three (maybe four) hives.

The weather in 2012 dashed my hopes of building up my stock to 12 hives.

Hey, ho.  It's a new year.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Steam cleaning a polynuc

I made the feeding hole in the top of a polynuc a bit bigger and poked in the steam hose.  See below.
There is some tinfoil in the bottom of the hive, to catch the dross. I poked a hole in the foil to allow the wax to run out through the mesh floor onto the correx sheet below (just visible).

Very good results!  See the dross left behind below.

So I like this very simple and clean way of rendering wax out of old frames.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Wax extraction by steam

Here are the results of my new toy - a wallpaper steamer that serves as a steam-maker for a makeshift wax extractor.

Here's the problem. When a hive dies (like several of mine have this rotten summer), you have the issue of what to do with the frames.

Leave them in the shed?  They will get attached by wax moth (see blog entries passim).

Cut out the comb and dispose?  A waste of wax (and I need a supply for waxing plastic frames - see other blog entries passim).

Put all the comb in an old pair of tights and boil to remove the wax?  Very messy, not very effective, and almost certain to promote domestic disharmony.

Put into a solar wax extractor?  Cost to much, takes too long, and anyway, what bleedin' sun in this soddin' rainy island?

So my solution is below.

£22 from B&Q. Fill with 5L of water and switch on.

The wallpaper steaming plate (not shown) can be put aside until Mrs Novice has a redecorating hormone surge (thankfully not too frequent).

Place the broodbox, complete with frames to be steamed, onto a mesh floor (to catch most of the rubbish that falls out of the frames), with baking foil below that to catch the wax.

On the roof, I placed a polystyrene tile (as used in roof insulation) with a hole in the middle.  Insert the end of the steam hose through the hole.  Weigh the roof down with bricks.

In 90 minutes, the result is shown below.

Frames with just the larval cases remaining.  All the wax has melted out, see photo below.

The result was 660g of clean(ish) wax, artfully displayed on a tea tray in photo below.

It needs to be cleaned up for sale, but for waxing plastic frames, it's good enough.

Wax extractors from Thorne's are £550.