Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
The (Almost) Naked Beekeeper!
Lee and I arrived first, so after watering in the greenhouses and ploytunnel we suited up, although not as thoroughly as we normally do!
Now, normally I wear gaiters over my shoes, to seal the trouser legs (and prevent bees from crawling up them, which has happened once before, and normally results in a sting to your leg when you move - as the trousers then squash the been against your leg and it retaliates by stinging you!), but seeing as we werent doing a full inspection, I didnt bother with my gaiters, and also forgot the fact that bees dont like black clothing, it makes them think you are a 'bear' come to steal their honey, not a great situation when you've got black trousers on and are upsetting them by opening the hive!
So,as Pat and Colin hadnt yet arrived, Lee lit the smoker and we went into apiary 1 to have a look at hive 7 (aka the nucleus)! On opening the hive and having a good look, we have to conclude that its gone queenless, there's no sign of eggs, grubs, larvae or a queen in evidence anywhere within the hive, so we've only got a couple of choices of what we can do with it!
Without a queen present the hive will not survive, and with no eggs present, then the workers cant raise an egg to become a queen, so they are doomed unless we do one of two things! The 2 choices we have are to combine it with another hive (possibly hive 1 as this is our weakest colony), by putting the brood boxes above each other, separated by a layer of newspaper (once the bees have eaten their way through, then they will already have gotten each others scent, so wont fight and will combine happily together), or (as its still - just about - early enough for a new queen to be mated and start laying) we could give them a frame of eggs to enable them to raise an egg as a queen and hopefully the colony will then become strong enough to survive!
We decided to take a frame of eggs from Hive 3 (in the other apiary) as this is a hive with calm bees and thats nice and strong, so after sealing up hive 7 temporarily we moved over to apiary 2 to see if we could get a frame of eggs to move! As we went into Apiary 2 it was to find that our smoker had gone out, so Lee quickly relit it!
Hive 3 is a strong colony, and has 4 supers on it at the moment, so before we could remove a frame we had to remove the 4 (heavy) supers, then the queen guard before we could start looking for a frame of newly laid eggs! As I removed the first frame of bees from hive 3 they realised I was wearing black trousers, so one decided to sting me on my leg straight away! Ouch!
We then found the smoker had gone out again, and the bees were getting upset at being disturbed at such a late hour, so there were a lot of angry bees flying around! We managed to find a good frame of newly laid eggs, removed it and gently shook the bees off the frame, only to find that some of the uncapped honey from the frame then flew out and landed on my black trousers! This sent the now angry bees into a bit of a feeding frenzy, so my legs were covered in bees, and worse than that, I could feel them crawling up inside my trouser legs!!!
Pat and Colin arrived at this point, to find me stood with my legs unmoving, a frame of eggs in my hand and Lee laughing! Pat relit the smoker, then took the frame of eggs over to hive 7 (in the other apiary) and closed up that hive, before coming back to us!
Lee had managed to clear the bees off his legs by this time (gently brushing them off), so he got the smoker and smoked me to remove as many of the bees from my trousers as possible, but I was stuck with bees inside my trousers, if I'd have moved either leg they would have stung me, and I could feel them getting higher, one was already above my knee!
I tried lifting my trouser leg, but as my work trousers are fairly form fitting, I couldnt raise them far enough without risking squashing a bee and receiving a sting, so only 1 alternative was available to me........ I'd have to take my trousers off! Ok, I'm no prude, its not something that I'm accustomed to, but it doesnt worry me, except for the 200000 stings flying angrily around the enclosed space of the apiary!
Nothing for it though, either I remove my trousers and hopefully get the bees out without a sting, or try to walk out and invariably get a sting! I got Lee to give me a thorough smoking, then managed to remove my trousers without getting stung (although I'm sure my bottom made a nice target for some of the bees to aim for) and freed the trapped bees, before exiting the apiary, luckily without any more stings!
The only good thing about the whole situation though, is I'm gald I wasnt 'going commando' today, as that definitely could have been embarrassing, not to say downright painful! Lol! And, before you ask, no, I didnt let anyone get any pictures of me trouserless in the apiary, you'll just have to take my word for it!
Anyhows, the nucleus in Hive 7 has a frame of freshly laid eggs now, so we'll let them alone for a couple of weeks and see whether they manage to requeen themselves!
Anyhows, the moral of the beekeeping exerience, dont think you can just quickly do anything where bees are concerned, and dont cut corners with your bee protection! I was lucky today, I could easily have been stung a lot more than the once that I was!
Hope your plots are cropping well, and if you have bees, I hope they are behaving themselves and not forcing you to do a naked dance around your apiary! Lol!
Thanks for reading, more updates to follow soon!