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Friday, 9 January 2009

Ivy Emergency!

I'm a bit late posting this, but here goes.

In late September I had to return the borrowed hive to the lovely local beekeepers that lent it to me - so I bought my own and built it from flatpack.

When we opened the hive to do the replacement we found lots of bees clustering on the outside of the hive (well, to be accurate between the lifts of the WBC hive and the inner brood boxes and supers). We soon found that the broodbox was stuffed full of ivy honey. You can tell it by the rank smell.

Emergency measures were needed!

After some debate (phone a friend?), we decided to remove a frame of honey stores and replace it with a frame of empty foundation and put on a super of drawn comb (another loan from my lovely friends), and hope that would do the trick.

I added a feeder full of sugar syrup to the top of the super and closed it up, and hoped for the best.

All seemed well, but they were not happy girls. We disrupted them so much that a few did try to follow me back down the garden and sting me. They are normally very docile.

Lesson? There's a lot to learn. The large flow of ivy honey and the great increase in the size of the colony took me by surprise.

You may be wondering what I did with the honey. Well, I made another mistake. I uncapped it by running a large flat hot knife across the surface of the comb to remove the cappings, exposing the honey in the cells. I hoped that it would then run out through gravity. But no. Being ivy honey, it crystalised overnight and left me with a brick of solid comb. I may give it back to the bees in the spring and see what they can make of it. It's of no use to me. Interestingly, I thought the ivy honey was quite nice tasting. Strong, but not unpleasant.


  1. I thought you weren't expecting any honey in your first season anyway?

    And if you got many more girls in the hive than you were expecting, you must have been looking after them well eh?

  2. True, I wasn't expecting honey, but it's still annoying to make mistakes. Best way of learning? Not sure!


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