Monday, 14 April 2014

The Wonder of Bees with Martha Kearney

Tonight starting on BBC FOUR is a 4 part series I think you all might 'bee' interested in.

The Wonder of Bees with Martha Kearney

the bees didn't read that book!!
Who says bees only build down???
BBC Four, 8:00pm.

Martha Kearney's year gets off to a bad start when unseasonal snow in spring threatens to kill the bee colonies she keeps in her garden in Suffolk. With help from a master beekeeper Martha feeds her bees and takes one of the hives to a wildflower meadow at a neighbour's house along with two brand new hives.

She discovers the intricate hierarchy within the bee colony and learns how the organisation of the hive has become a metaphor for human society. At a London school she learns the secrets of urban bees' success even while bees in the country as a whole are in decline. The episode ends with three new hives established on a wildflower meadow, ready to start producing classic British wildflower honey

To learn more , have a sneak peak or find it on the iplayer just go here where you will also find a link to BBC Nature; Bees that is really interesting too.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Beehive frame building

Well as you all know I got some bee hives on my allotment last August but I haven't really posted much about them since then, only what I have been achieving on the bee plot. The reason I haven't said much is because over the winter months there really isn't that much to report.

Spring is here now though which means things really start 'buzzing' again and with plenty of O.S.R. (Oil Seed Rape) crops around me there is plenty for the bees to feast on. All the available food means the you have to think about where your bees are going to store it. For more stores you need more 'supers', for more 'supers' you need more frames. So of course I set to frame building.

We were shown how to do this on the course I attended last year but when it came to me having to make one myself last August it took me nearly an hour to build one...luckily I got quicker which is just as well as for my brood box and my supers to be filled I needed to make another 54 frames.

It's easier to show what you have to do in pictures......

beehive frame materials
beehive frame materials
 So first of all you need your materials to build your frames and your beeswax foundation to put in them. Thee bees don't have to have the foundation in order to create the comb but putting in the foundation means they have a lot less work to do initially and so saves them a lot of time and energy.

You can purchase frames ready made but it is more expensive and you don't get that chance to hit things hard with a where's the fun in that!! I like to get all my materials' laid out and set myself up a little assembly line as I find this the quickest and most efficient way.

So once you have everything in place you can get cracking........

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Take what will be your top bar
and split off one side.

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Now you have a top bar with a piece of wood
that you will put back and nail in place later

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Take your two side bars and push into place.
Use 4 pins to secure these in place.

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Get a sheet of wired beeswax

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Put wired beeswax in frame bending wires,
place the strip of wood you removed back
and nail with 3 pins where wires
are folded over.

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Now take your bottom bars and
place in groves to complete
your frame. Secure with 4 pins.

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
And there you have your completed frame.
I can now make up about 10 frames an hour.

beehive frame materials beehive frame building
Here we have one each of completed super
and deep brood frames.

Now I do realise that putting this up could pose a whole lot of questions which I would love to answer...but then again there is the possibility that none of you are really interested in which case you will ask no questions and I won't have waffled on about bees for ever and a day and bored you all to tears. So if you have questions let me know...I will be happy to do a follow up post...if not it's fine and I can be happy  knowing that I haven't sent anyone to sleep as they only had to look at a few photos!!