Bad beekeepin’, good houseleekin’, loadsasnowin’

I go away for a week and the bees go mad.


I don’t mean so mad that they put their honey in a pot for me – only that they seem to have filled up the hive to the top, probably with rape. And this despite them being a new swarm, in place only since late May. That’s 13 kg of honey (err, with wax mixed in of course, since the frames in the top super were foundationless, because I was in a hurry. They did not put their own comb neatly in rows).

Also while we were away the houseleeks have come out into full flower, even better than last year.


That one is unadjusted, but not really true colour. This one is adjusted and closer to eye.

And lastly, we were in the Stubai again. Sulzenauhutte to Innsbrucker Hutte this time. Some decent days but an awful lot of snow. Here’s the view down to the Blau Lacke and beyond the Sulzenauhutte (just visible nearly center) from half way up the so-called “Aperer Freiger”, “aperer” being a name sometimes given to the lower peaks off main summits (the main summit in this group being the Wilder Freiger). I’d assumed, in previous years, that it meant “lower” but it turns out to mean “snow free”, which fits with being lower of course.


Its been a bad year for the bees

I speak personally, I should add, not of the world in general. I can’t find my spring post – maybe I didn’t do one – but I recall only taking about 4-5 frames off, which is pretty poor by spring standards – I normally expect a couple of supers. Two days ago (I mention this because I put in the Apistan, so I need to remember to take it out 6 weeks later) I opened up the hive to discover that the top super could be trivially lifted off, which is a bad sign, since a light super is an empty super. The next one down was a bit better, but mostly only because they had glued it down the fiends. In the brood box there were plenty of bees, though perhaps with a gap on the LHS of a frame or two – not quite happy with that. But, they were storing honey down there. So I put in the Apistan and left them to get on with it – it was a sunny day, at last.

[Update: 2011/10/28: a sunny still morning and I happened to be at home, so I took the Apistan out. The bees were fine.Pulled down a few nettles. It would be good to crop some more trees to allow the hive to get winter sun. Or raise the hive, or pull it back a few feet.]


* 2010

Bad beekeeping

The latest in a long stream of posts avoiding more important matters. But you take what you can get, I think. This one is about my continuing wanderings in bee land.


Some comb, as you’ll doubtless recognise. Don’t be too hard on the poor things, as the frames have been re-ordered as I was taking them off, which is why they don’t fit together as you’d expect. The stuff off to the right is what they do when you don’t give them frames to work on (who would be so careless as to fail to do that?). You can see the bee-space (1/4″ I think) that they like to give themselves, and the maximum thickness they will make. But you can also see how prettily they construct space-filling patterns. It reminds me of zebra stripes or somesuch. Of the others, only the fat one near the middle is good, the others are all lopsided or too think. But then, I often put them in like that – it has been a long time since they have had a clean set of frames to work from. This time I needed to melt a lot down – lots of rape honey from the spring set in the combs, that I didn’t deal with at the time – so maybe next year they will have a better chance.

I see this photo was taken on 9/13, which is when I took the honey off and put the bayvarol in. Or thereabouts. So today is about 6 weeks on, which is happily when I was supposed to take the bayvarol out, and indeed I did. So that was good.

This has been quite a good season. Lots of honey in springtime and (unlike last year) plenty in autumn too. I really should have done all this taking off about a month earlier, but summer is always busy.


* 2010/06
* 2010/05

Bee blogging

Dscn1508-bee-pollen_crop_w800 (for Maz). Perceptive readers will notice that this is a bumblebee, and on a hollyhock, so is anachronistic.

Sunday afternoon, and I finally had time to see to the girls. This was my first visit of the year (oh, the shame) and so finding the beesuit and trousers and gloves was step one. Step two was the smoker, cardboard and matches. Step 3 took rather longer, and was to clear the nettles and general vegetation away from the hive. After that, it was time to open up, and I was pleased to find a happy hive full of bees with the two supers nearly full, but not capped. The Rape is around this year (last year, for a pleasant change, it wasn’t) so I’ll have to Take Off fairly soon. At this rate I may have to add another super first, which will mean digging out some frames or making them up.

Dredging down in the brood box (they were being well behaved) I found a couple of empty queen cells, which tallies with a neighbour a few doors off who had a swarm of bees descend on his house on Saturday and then vanish inside his chimney (yes I went for a look, but since his roof is tall and his fireplace bricked up, there was little to do). Although the hive felt somewhat full for that. Ah well, who knows really. I’m happy they survived the winter – Nikola’s didn’t.