Saturday, 14 May 2016

Bees! Bees! Bees!

I have bees! 

You may remember a post last year when I was doing my beginners course, and got to get a little hands-on experience through the kindness of one of the beekeepers running the course. 

After that, I decided to take the plunge and to get some bees of my own.  Which involved quite a lot of waiting, as I needed to find somewhere I could site a hive, (my garden isn't really big enough, and is too close to the neighbours) and to wait until Spring for a nucleus (nuc) of bees.

Unopened travel box on top of the hive
I overcame my shyness to approach a lady living further down my road, having spotted that she has a large, semi-wild garden, behind her house, to ask whether she might consider letting me put a hive in her garden. Happily, she was very enthusiastic about the idea, so I was able to go ahead and order a (flat pack) hive and to start building it, and to order a queen-bee and all her attendants.

And then I had to wait. and wait. and wait some more.

Until Wednesday, when I got confirmation that my bees were ready for collection. And then of course, it was time to panic and to wonder what on earth I had been thinking, to get myself into this.

And this morning, I drove to just outside Gloucester to collect my bees. And then drove home very carefully home. (I found that knowing there are several thousand bees sharing the car with you, restrained only by  a polystyrene box held closed with a few bits of packing tape, concentrates the mind!) 

Letting the bees out of the travel box
I was nervous about putting the bees into their hive - I haven't done this before, nor have I watched someone else do it, and while one can read up in advance, it's not necessarily practical to stop halfway though to check the instructions! 

Step one was to put the travel box on the hive site, and open the door, so the bees can come out, and can start to find their way around. 

I was gratified to find that the bees did not immediately attack me (they had, after all, just spent an hour and half shut up in a box being joggled around). And still more gratified to find that they had clearly been reading the same textbook as me, as they promptly started doing all the correct things - flying in smaller and then larger circles above the hive, standing near the entrance and fanning pheremones around, and the like.

So, I left them for an hour or so, before going back in order to move the frames of brood, eggs and stores from the travel box into my shiny new hive, and to give them a feed of sugar syrup.

Just after installing the bees in the hive

This was the scary part, as it involved opening up the travel box, which naturally meant lots more bees flying around my head.

But they considerately rerained from stinging me or trying to sting me, and I managed to move all the frames across without dropping anything vital.

I didn't manage to spot the Queen Bee as I moved the frames over, and decided that I would not push my luck and risk annoying the bees by lifting the frames out of the hive to try to find her - I shall have another look in a day or two.

Hive in situ
I admit that I am feeling quite chuffed with myself, having managed to get this far, and I hope that the bees will stay content and productive, and that I shall be able to keep them going over the winter, and to harvest at least a little honey later this year!

I was very lucky that today was a beautiful warm, sunny day - it could not have been better for playing with bees.  In fact, when I went back to set up some drinking water for them, I could see that they were already bringing back pollen. So I guess that they have accepted their new home.


Emma Gedge said...

This is FAB, I am very envious of your bees!

Marjorie said...

It's very exciting! I hope someone warned the bees they would be dealing with an amateur!