Stingless bees protest “we’re working hard too!”

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I will admit that my lovely little Australian native stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) have been left to their own devices over the last few months while I’ve been busily setting up my honey bees. Today however, I took a wander through the garden and checked out what these little guys have been up to. 

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Bless them they’re very hard at work harvesting and pollinating my apricot, Chinese flat cabbage, broccoli – none of which are of any interest to my honey bees. They also happily share the basil, lavender and nasturtiums with the honey bees.

Also hanging out with the bees were heaps of hover flies who love aphid larvae so I’m always happy to see in the patch.

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Bee explosion in Madonna’s house

On the way home yesterday, I was talking with friend beekeeper Nadine from MadameHoneybee. Nadine also attends Bee School with me on Saturdays, and as a professional freelance photographer, she’s also able to occasionally attend the Wednesday class as well.  Nadine was making me jealous telling me that both last week and again today, the class encountered swarms which needed to be captured. All my bee school classmates would agree that swarm capturing is one of the things you need to know how to do before you graduate bee school.

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Bee buddy Nadine shooting the bees 🙂

The two swarms this week were from new nucs that have just been set up in the last month.

One had swarmed due to a severe infestation of Small Hive Beetle which had occurred in just 4 days (since the nuc had been checked on Saturday); the second seemed to be caused by simply too many bees in the nuc box.

The first swarm is more than a little alarming and the hives at John’s will all need to be closely monitored, but it was the second swarm that I was most interested in. You see, that swarm was from fellow schooler Scott’s nuc hive and Scott had collected his queens from Corrine, the Bee Lady the same day I received Madonna. Having both hives set up around the same time, I wondered whether I might have a similar problem at home.

So it was with a little trepidation that I approached my hive yesterday afternoon and noticed a lot of bees sitting outside the hive. Opening the lid was like opening a soda water bottle after shaking it. The bees just crawled out from everywhere and were in quite a buzz and seemed to just keep coming! A quick check on the foundation frames that were put in showed me that there is not a lot of storage room for them.

While not ideal given that by now it was already dark, I have put the new Flow Hive Lite box on top with a queen excluder.

This morning the bees seem a lot calmer with the new honey box on top. Honey may be coming sooner than I had planned! 

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Queen Magdelan arrives

First was Queen 3L LS (Queen Madonna that I received 11 days ago) and today I welcomed Queen 71L (Queen Magdelan) along with the nuc split from North Brisbane Bee Keepers Association’s Treasurer, John’s healthy hives from just around the corner in Geebung.

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The queen is kept inside a purpose made cage with a few of her workers which is then sealed with candy (an icing sugar type mix). It is the job of both the queen and her new bees to eat the candy out to free her which should take between 2 days and a week. This allows the hive to acclimate to her.

So it was a very busy day at Bee School with 12 new queens being introduced to 12 new Nucs so we really tested the boundaries of the established hives as each Nuc needed 2 if not 3 frames of brood as well as a good store of honey.

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A lot of hands on deck for the procedure so not nearly as stressful as I expected. Thanks bee school team!!

Lazy bee gardening

I admit that I’ve been pretty neglectful of my garden in the last few months as I’ve been off to bee school early on a Saturday and exhausted by the time I get home. Now that I am coming to the end of all my hard bee preparation, I’ve been taking the time to wander around the garden in the morning watching the bees at work.

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In my absence, my nasturtiums have taken over a good 3 metres of my veggie patch – swallowing tomato plants, green onions and chives in their path. But watching the bees gorge themselves this morning, I couldn’t be too upset; it’s like having a neon sign in your yard saying “Bee Stop Here”.

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Bee school

North Brisbane Bee Keepers - Bee School

Today was a public holiday in Brisbane thanks to the Ekka. I hope that next year I will be competing in the Honey Court with my Mead at the Ekka but I’ve got a fair wait til then. While I’m still a newbee learning the ropes, I took the opportunity to get a morning in at Bee School. I am a fortunate member of the North Brisbane Bee Keepers Association and our Treasurer John, kindly imparts his wisdom to other members from his hive site at Geebung.

Today we were keeping an eye out for hives that could be split as many of us will be receiving new queens on Saturday and John has offered to supply nukes from splits of his very healthy hives.

If anyone is thinking about taking up Apiary (bee keeping) I highly recommend joining a club as there are heaps of people happy to share their knowledge and also to give you a helping hand when needed.

The lovely Nadine from Madame Honey who happens to also be a professional photographer, was on hand for me today to take a proper in focus photo of my queen (named Madonna) while I took a peek in my hive.

Queen Madonna (blue spot)

Queen Madonna and attendants

Isn’t she beautiful!

Busy bees

It’s a week today since I got my girls and a lot of frenetic energy has been spent both inside and outside the hive settling them in! It’s only been 3 days since I transferred them from their 5 frame nuke box to their 8 frame home but already they’ve started to build our all 3 additional foundation frames and the brood is looking exceptionally healthy. Great to see!

What’s Flowering July-August

Winter in Brisbane is not like winter anywhere else in the world. Our bees have an abundance of flora to feast on for pollen and nectar and bee keepers rarely stop harvesting honey.

French Lavender

French lavender traditionally flowers Winter-Spring. In my garden, it hasn’t stopped since it first started flowering in June 2014 – thanks to my lovely native girls and visiting honey bees.

Rocket – I never seem to make the most out of my rocket when it is growing, but the bees certainly love it when it bolts to flower.

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Benvenuti ai miei bellezze italiane

Welcome my Italian Beauties!

I’ve just taken possession of my first nuke box full of Italian Honey Bees from “The Bee Lady” Corrine in Carbrook. I wasn’t quite expecting them so early – since Queens aren’t usually available ti September, but we’ve had an unseasonably mild winter and mother nature has decided it was time.

These girls will be helping my Native bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) to help pollinate my veggie patch and keep me in a plentiful supply of golden honey.