Looking better


Liz seems to be doing well and the colony is expanding. I have been moving the new frames, once drawn and containing eggs towards the centre of the brood. Today I introduced a second brood box and I have put the old frames in it and placed it at the bottom. Then added a queen excluder and put the new frames with the queen into the top brood box. Fed them and closed it up.

I will leave this for 24 days for all the brood to emerge.

It is quite interesting as they have only drawn the new frames out to the depth of the smaller frames – whereas when I transferred from one size frame to another last year they built masses of brace comb under the frames, filling all the space.

The nuc is not good news – I have no idea if the emerged queen is in the colony or not. She certainly isn’t laying yet.

But the other really exciting thing is that we are going to have a go at queen rearing. G has put one frame of new ‘V’ shaped foundation into the centre of one of his colonies and the theory is that by next week they will have started to draw this out. Hopefully the queen will fill it with eggs and we will go from there. He has kindly given us each an Apidea mating hive, and I have already made up the frames – somewhat prematurely!

I do look forward to my visits to my lovely bees. I am so lucky to belong to such a beautiful place, to be able to just sit and watch. It is difficult to believe that this little haven of peace and quiet is to be found in the London suburbs.

Out of the apiary I have made some delicious honey and ginger ice cream – it is so easy and I have put my recipe on this site.


New hive, new queen …


It’s been the most gorgeous sunny day and the apiary looks beautiful. The blossom is covering the trees, the sky is a brilliant blue, the ponds are alive with tadpoles and we have seen goldcrests for the first time in three years. Two of the bird boxes seem to be occupied and we can’t go in the shed as there is a robin sitting on a nest just by the door. Four eggs.

Now to my new colony – with Liz (pictured) in charge. I was really disappointed last week as I was so looking forward to enjoying my new bees. There should have been brood in different stages of development as well as honey and pollen (as per description), but this just wasn’t the case. The suppliers have assured me that I can have this nuc replaced or have my money back – but I don’t really want to to do either as the thought of a journey back to Banbury, a days round trip, is not appealing in the least.

I popped down to have a quick look midweek – and was pleasantly surprised as Liz was actually laying an egg when I first saw her. She seemed to have been fairly busy as there quite a few eggs and some very young larvae. The workers have started drawing out some foundation, but not as much as I had hoped. I have decided to leave it one week and make a decision then.

And now to Guinevere’s hive… which we left it with two sealed queen cells and no queen or eggs. One cell has now hatched and the other has been broken back completely. Exciting or what?! I closed it up again, fairly quickly, as I don’t want to disturb anything unnecessarily. The colony is weak, so I am not sure that even with a new queen it will pull through. I will try and be restrained for a while and just let nature take its course.

Its very different having more than one hive. You have to make sure you really keep on top of what’s going on. I’ve always keep notes, but it is easy to get confused unless you are pretty organised about it.

Note to self: Go in with a plan and be clear about what needs recording. Make notes as soon as possible.

And so it goes on…

Huge excitement. I have been to collect my over-wintered nuc from a farm in Oxfordshire. With my purchase securely parcelled up in a travelling box, I decided to make a small detour via Windsor as I needed another feeder. But the place was difficult to find,  I got a little lost, and then I noticed a distinct buzzing in the back of the car. Then I saw why… There were half a dozen bees on the back window… and I still had to drive back to London. I stayed fairly calm but placed a thin sheet loosely over the top of the nuc just in case many more decided to go on their travels.

The lovely man at Thornes reassured me that it was only the small young bees that were able to squeeze through the mesh. They couldn’t fly nor sting and some were even going back into the box! So I set off again hoping that the M25 would keep moving. I managed to get home without further cause for concern.

I put the bees on top of the hive and left them to settle a while. Then the sun came out and it was reasonably warm and as the weather forecast for the next few days wasn’t good I thought it would be a sensible time to transfer them into the waiting hive. I did it fairly quickly and didn’t inspect the frames, but I did see the (Buckfast) queen – who shall be called Elizabeth. I gave them a feed, closed them up and left them a couple of days to settle before having a good look.


Sunday turned out to be the most beautiful warm spring day and I was really quite excited but also slightly nervous. It turned out to be with good reason – no eggs and no larvae – but a fair bit of capped brood. Obviously the queen might be a bit out of sorts after her travels and might not have started laying again yet, but I would have expected more brood to be there in the first place. I have since contacted the suppliers and they have reassured me that they will exchange them for another nuc if it doesn’t settle down – but that will mean a days round trip which I could do without. Why isn’t anything straightforward?

Then to my other disaster! They are bringing in lots of pollen and some of it is the most beautiful pale green – which I think might be flowering currant. (Bristol beekeepers website has a lovely pollen chart). Still no sign of Guinevere and still no eggs. But two sealed queen cells next door to each other on the face of one frame. I am not going worry about this hive any more, I am going to let nature take its course and see if one of these sealed cells might turn matters round. At least the weather has improved a bit…

Lesson to myself: Stay positive