In an unexpected turn of events, a rainy, miserable week was followed by a gorgeous sunny Saturday. So off to the apiary it was, where I met Brian checking out his super. He has placed a queen excluder and normal National super on top of his top-bar hive and the bees are now starting to go up there and draw out the foundation. Brian sees it as a way to get the best of both worlds – foundationless brood frames with easier-to-extract super frames.
Once Emma arrived we inspected our hives. We found lots of this beautiful stuff…
And more perfectly capped HONEY. Our boxes are heavy. I can just about lift a super (which contains around 30 pounds of honey) on my own, but it is much easier with a hive partner to help. Trying to move the boxes around without squashing any of the 60,000 constantly moving bees inside is a task and a half too, but we try to keep casualties to an absolute minimum.
As one of the artificially swarmed colonies from May containing a new queen had gone queen-less, last week we combined it back with their mother Chamomile’s hive. So five hives have become four.
We combined using the usual newspaper method, placing newspaper with a few slits in above Chamomile’s brood box and then placing the queen-less brood box on top (we checked through several times to make sure there was no queen in there). I was more nervous about this than usual as there were a few cells with multiple eggs in, a sign of laying workers. Would these workers kill Chamomile?
The answer this week is nope. I found plenty of neat eggs up in the top brood box, one per cell, so Chamomile has been up there investigating. Down below we spotted Chamomile, a long golden queen, although perplexingly we also found a few queen cells. It’s late in the season to swarm and there were only a few cells, so we’re hoping this is a case of supersedure and are leaving the bees to get on with producing their new queens.
After a hot couple of hours inspecting we went on to Andy’s 60th birthday party. The party had a bit of a bee theme to it, with this spectacular honey cake made by Andy’s wife Penny. The little bees were made of chocolate raisins with almond wings.
We all got a piece of cake, as well as plenty of other delicious food, beer and Pimms. Scarlett Johansson and Benedict Cumberbatch were also at the party.
A few more photos from the week…
Cupcakes from a evening cake decorating course I did at City Lit, near Covent Garden.
Poppies and cornflowers growing along the Radbourne Walk wildlife gardening project I helped out earlier with this year. Unfortunately Council staff turned up a few weeks ago (even though it had been agreed earlier in the year they wouldn’t) and strimmed down many of the newly planted flowers. So some of my taxes this year went on destroying the work I and many others sweated over. An allotment holder noticed and managed to stop them, but by that time most of the alleyway had been strimmed. The Council have again agreed not to do this next time.
To end on a more positive note, here is a bumble bee enjoying a pumpkin flower.