Jun. 28th, 2007 10:25 pm
lizwilliams: (Default)
[personal profile] lizwilliams
We have bees. Went over to Wells at dusk and after a necessary bottle of wine, not that anyone needed Dutch courage or anything, T and P suited up and transferred the nucleus to the hive we'd brought with us.

There were a lot of bees. Quite unnerving, to see this crawling mass of insect life. I brought a very angry bee into the kitchen and P's wife collared it with one of those twee umbrella things you put over food to keep the flies off.

P used rubber gloves: if he gets stung, he says, the bees just twirl round and unscrew their stings rather than tearing free and subsequently dying. I didn't know this was possible, but apparently so.

After this we had a long discussion about, of all things, the Peloponnesian War.

By this time it was dark and raining, so we loaded the bees (taped up) into the car and came home. They're in the orchard now, in their little house. It was all very peaceful, due largely to being dark and cold. We'll check on them tomorrow.

Date: 2007-06-28 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Odd, little known fact : I've always wanted to keep bees. The whole process absolutely fascinates me.

If I can ask, what kind of vegetation is in your area? We had several hives when we were farming. One was set up for our alphalpha field, one for our clover/regular fields. Richly different flavours to the honey.

Which I suppose is the other question, is this for the honey or for a pollination project? Here in Canada there have been a few initiatives to start doing pollination/fertilization through bees and not chemicals, which is why I ask.

Date: 2007-06-29 09:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lots of oil seed rape, which makes not-bad honey, but at the moment, we have a field full of clover. So I'm going to hold off from mowing this until the bees have had a good crack at it.

Date: 2007-06-28 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The bees, at least, will not steal your food off the table or pee on your floors.

Date: 2007-06-29 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Unlike everything else!!

Date: 2007-06-29 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you're opening up the hive for flights in the morning, I'd recommend you give them a lot of smoke and sugar water on opening and then get the heck out of there while they fly around to scope out the neighborhood and folks they might be crabby about visiting. I mean WAY away!

Been there, done that. :)

BTW, flannel is perfect for bees to get stuck in and let you have it. Light colors and slick fabric is the way to go. You all probably know this but just in case...

Date: 2007-06-29 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, thanks for this. T is the bee expert in this household but I'm new to it, so any advice is welcome. I do however need a bee suit (and for those who are imagining me looking like the TV character in the Simpsons - you know perfectly well what I mean!)

Date: 2007-06-29 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Putting some objects in their flight path out of the new hive location will also help them to locate. Seems to slow them down and make them think, such as bees might do that, about where their new digs are located. Let's them know they aren't in Kansas anymore.

You need to move hives a good distance from where they were before or the bees will go back to the old location and wonder what happened to the hive. The way of making short moves is to put the hive on a wagon and pull it to where you want it a short distance every day. Or make a move to a place far away for awhile and then back to the new location.

Better to get the location where you want it straight off of course. :)

A proper bee suit is nice if you don't want to get stung. Most of the folks I know use a veil and that's about it. You get nailed now and then but it's kind of like carpenters who get splinters. Depends on how many hives you have too and how much you mess with them.

A properly working smoker is very important to drive the bees into the hive. Lots of smoke, no flames. They evidently think the hive is on fire and so dive into the honey and load up. A stuffed bee is a contented bee.

Likewise spraying them with sugar water can keep them distracted in a positive way. This is often done when you get a new queen and bees in the mail.

Also you need to work efficiently and smoothly. Even the mellow bees have their limits with being fooled around with.

Have fun with the little guys!

Date: 2007-06-30 10:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! Will take all this on board. We have got a smoker. I should add that we've had a wild swarm (I say wild: I think we've inadvertently nicked them from the neighbours) for some months now in one of the other hives. T's going to have a look at them today. He knows what he's doing. I don't! - yet!

Date: 2007-06-30 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Swarms are fair game once they go over a property line. As I recall, one of the problems is that swarms need extra attention so they don't starve out. Especially if the swarm is on the small size.

Properly operating a standard smoker can be a little tricky. You don't want flame and you don't want to run out of smoke.

Also there's a balance between how much smoke you give the little guys. Not too little and not too much. It just takes practice and experience to get the hang of all this. The bees will let you know what's what. :)

If you're a newbie, I'd recommend picking up some of the Root books on beekeeping. They are the classics, imo. I'm sure your local library probably has a nice collection to learn from as well.

Have fun! Bees are cool little guys. :)

Date: 2007-06-29 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Have fun! May you have all of the advantages of bees, and none of the hassles!

Date: 2007-06-29 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Is it appropriate to mention how much I love honey?

[and the latest news on the "mobile phones kill bees scare" has resolved into "bees don't like being fed corn syrup".]

Date: 2007-06-29 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
>"bees don't like being fed corn syrup".]

Well, who does? ;-)


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