First sting of the year

Today I visited my hives for the first time this year. People at the local bee club had been talking about hives being on the light side, due to a mild winter, and I had just taken delivery of some fondant, so it was time for a visit. The other useful idea I had worked out was, rather than using a plastic bag to ‘apply’ the fondant to the bees, to use a plastic Chinese takeaway container. The benefits being that it would be easy to handle, easy to apply the same amount to each hive (and of course be reusable on top of the fact it was already being reused).

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Anyway, I took the fondant to the first apiary. This hive still had an upturned bucket of thick syrup on top of it that was half full but I had been reliably informed that they would not take this in winter. I removed the bucket only to find that this was not as true as I had been led to believe, and the cloud of annoyed insects is what earned me my prize. Luckily I had my lovely new bee jacket on (more on that in another post, it arrived under the Christmas tree), but I don’t wear gloves, and this time I didn’t smoke as I hadn’t expected so much interest. Anyway I figured as they liked the syrup so much to top it up from the stores there, and put it back on. On this crown board, which I bought as part of a second hand hive, there were two holes, so to the bucket went on one and the fondant takeaway had its lid removed and was upturned over the other hole. Well can’t see those bees going short, unless it gets very cold. Either way I think I will be re-queening for some nicer bees there this year, they have always been a bit prone to stinging.

I went to the next apiary and the bees there were much nicer there. The first and second hive went without concern, covers off, bees seen, fondant on, close up. On the third hive, my tyrolean hive, I looked in and could not see any activity, although I could see honey stores; then I could hear some buzzing, the I saw them coming up from below. This hive has a commercial deep and a national super, I’d let them put sugar syrup in the super because I didn’t want to take any chances with this one, being the house for my Danish Lady buckfast queen. Anyway I fed them and wrapped them up again.

The next hive was fine and uneventful with one additional task of turning it 90deg to the south. The last however was different case. I’d left a miller feeder on this and a lot of bees had committed suicide in it. I removed that and found quite a small cluster underneath, so I’m not sure that will make it through. That hive needed turning too and I found, much to my annoyance, that the Thornes stand it was on, I’d only bought last year, was already rotting and wobbly. Grr, that will teach me to just make my own in future, or at least buy from elsewhere.

So, I have two more hives to do at the last apiary, and some extra woodwork to get done on top of the one brood box, 3 supers and 50 frames to assemble. Lucky I like that kind of thing.

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