Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If Summer comes can ... oh, it's gone again

I am, oh gentle reader, acutely aware of the responsibility I have to you, my adoring and adorable public and I've a few areas where, let's be honest, I owe you updates as we trip, you and I, hand in hand through this delightful, and much delayed Surrey summertime.

The delay of summer is key to this particular post, an update on the bee situation here at the barn. Despite struggling valiantly through the winter you will recall that our little chums fell foul of a false spring and shuffled in their thousands off this mortal coil. I took the opportunity to do some beehousekeeping and I cleaned, repaired and refurbished the hives with fresh foundation (the beeswax basis of their building and honey storage).

I've had a colony on order from some chaps in Gloucestershire but they were suffering, as we all were from the weather induced delays to the start of the serious beekeeping year. In the meantime I'd established a 'bait hive'.
I'd collected all the manky old frames and foundation in a hive base (a box basically) and stuck that up on the roof of one of the barns.

The thinking here is that if a wild colony or more likely another beekeeepers bees decide they're a bit overpopulated, or they need to refresh their queen then half the colony and the old queen skedaddle and look for a new place to live. Putting a smelly old hive in a high place makes it an easy bit of house hunting for the bee estate agents and much to my surprise my bait hive collected a swarm about a week before I was due to collect the new colony from Gloucestershire.

So, in short order I was making a precarious dusky ladder ascent and transferred an indeterminate number of bees, of unknown provenance and yet to be discovered temperament from the idyllic location they'd selected for themselves and moved them, despite their protestations, to a more convenient, for me, locale.

Then within a couple of days I delivered unto them their new neighbours, a thriving colony of rural bees of italian extraction. Thus far both hives seem to be responding well and thriving despite a hectic and stressful couple of weeks for your correspondent, still very much a tyro apiarist, acutely aware of how little I know and how much I need to.

Survival, likelihood of honey and all other considerations will depend on how well the ladies and I settle into our ongoing regime and how well they like their new waxy palaces, I'll keep you posted.

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