Wednesday 31 March 2010

Bee News

Last Saturday it was warm enough to open the hives. One has not survived the winter. It has quite a lot of live bees still, and many dead ones, but there is no sign of brood and clearly no queen. They had plenty of food, and were a really big colony. I don't think their dying out has anything to do with mice getting into the hive (if mice did get in) and certainly nothing to do with the legendary Colony Collapse Disorder. More probably the queen died or was damaged, resulting in what old beekeepers called "spring dwindling". The other two hives are booming, lots of pollen going in. I've fed them both with 2kgsx1pt sugar solution, just to pep them up, though they both have quite a bit of food still in store.
At the end of the 2008 season I had three supers of solid rape honey, which I had not been able to get off the hives in time to extract. I stored it over winter in a shed, hoping to feed it to the bees later. Throughout last summer the shed was alive with wasps, and even though I wrapped the supers in black polythene they continued to try to get at them. When I unwrapped the supers last week I found that the wasps had cleaned them out perfectly. Every scrap of rape homey was gone and the drawn comb in the frames was clean and dry and ready to go back on the hives. So wasps have some use.


Tuesday 9 March 2010

Book Events and Bees

I shall be talking to Michael Schmidt about my Golding biography at the Glasgow Book Festival on Saturday 13 March at 3.30 in the Mitchell Library.
More bee news. I replaced the wooden slides on the two hives where they had been eaten and two weeks later the slides on one hive had been eaten away again to enlarge the holes. A fellow beekeeper says it is rats, which may be right, though the holes do not seem big enough for a rat to get through. The weather is too cold to open the hives and see how the colonies are, but last Sunday the sun was shining and, though there was a bitter wind and an air temperature of only 5, bees from the central hive of the three were flying - so maybe all is well. Hope so.