Over the last couple of months we have been lucky enough to take in some of the late summer swarms. One didn’t stick around very long but the others have happily taken up residence in our beautiful hand made horizontal top bar hives. They were late to swarm due to the adverse weather conditions of early summer so we fed them sugar syrup to make their preparations for winter easier and give them the best chance of lasting through the cold spells.
Here is an update of the ones we have at present:
Our pre-existing colony (Barsham) – which is also the daughter colony of our very first bees- is housed in a National Hive on frames with foundation (printed wax sheets) in. These bees have swarmed twice this year, as they are really successful and resilient bees I hope they bolster the local bee population. The hive is located in a wonderful spot near the river at Barsham:
The first of the top bar hives to be populated is in my garden (Earsham). It’s great to have such close contact with the bees, I spend a little time each day listening to them and watching them going in and out. One can tell a great deal about how contented or agitated they are from this. As there is a glass panel I can also satisfy my curiosity about how much comb they have built and how quickly they have emptied the feeder very easily. Wax flakes and pollen falling through the mesh floor onto the earth below gives another clue as to what they are foraging for and how much building is going on. I have opened them only once since shaking them in but all looked well – no sign of disease and plenty of brood. They do need to build up some winter stores though so I shall be feeding every few days for a while. The netting is to prevent apples falling on the hive (to be honest I forgot about the apple tree in my haste to get the hive ready for the swarm…):
Our only hive actually in Bungay is situated in a fabulous garden – the bees don’t have to go far for a sumptuous feast – and they seem really happy there, settling in very quickly. I was a little concerned for them at first as it was a vigorous swarm that had been housed in a nuc (half sized) box for a while and had drawn comb and collected nectar but needed more space. As we were moving to a different hive type and there was no brood I decided to shake them in. The nectar went in as well, showering them in stickiness, but they seem to have managed to clean up OK:
Our final top bar hive going into winter is situated at the Flixton Apiary site. This is also where we have collaborated with Keith and Jeannie to sow a wild-flower meadow and where we hold many of our meetings. I have mixed feelings about these bees (my first encounter with them resulted in an anaphlactic reaction and my second in being chased around the newly planted (large) pond as an impressive guard attempted to get through my veil). However, they have established themselves really well and have built more comb than any of the others, even though they were the last housed.
The last couple of months haven’t been easy for this colony. They have survived comb breaking off with stores dripping everywhere, the death of a Queen and the emergence of a new one. As this happened at the end of the season we have our fingers crossed that she got out and was successfully mated in time.