Don’t move your bees – fact or fiction??

I had been warned by many seasoned bee keepers that you moving your bees a short distance is a big no no and if absolutely necessary should be done less-than-a-meter at a time over an extended period of time. There is solid science and a lot of data to back up the cleverness of bee GPS and the importance of not mucking with the location of home, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice!

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I have been working hard to have my bee stand area paved and ready since I ordered my bees from The Bee Lady many months ago. Alas I was about a week short of the time I needed to finish the job before I went into surgery last week (yes I’m fine – thanks for asking). Of course doctors orders were that I can now do no heavy lifting for 8 weeks which made me want to weep since my back yard has been a construction zone for long enough!

My flatmate is terrific and very accommodating of the fact that I’ve become a crazy bee lady – a much tidier and less pungent smelling version of a crazy cat lady. That’s not to say he necessary likes the bees or wants to have much to do with them, but he tolerates them well enough that I can’t complain. I”m sure he would have probably obliged had I asked him every second day to move each hive a few inches each night. I’m just not sure that our happy flatmate state would have survived it.

So I took the plunge and late on Monday night and had my flatmate move one hive and again late last night move the other. The distance was not ideal – it was approximately 3 metres for the first hive and 2 metres tor the second hive to the new spot.

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The blue stand  on the left was the original site of the second hive. Enough to cause disorientation for the bees!

For most of Tuesday, I walked the stand (saw horse) between the original site and the new site, carrying a dozen or so bees at a time. I’m not sure how much good it did. By sundown there were perhaps three dozen bees that had succumbed to exhaustion from trying to find the hive without success. I had much less casualties today, probably because the new site was in their flight path to their original site. Fortunate because the original stand they were on was far too heavy for me to constantly lift back and forth carrying stray bees.

Given that there were definitely casualties from the move due to disorientation I would say with absolutely conviction that you should not move bees short distances quickly – only if doctors orders mean otherwise!!

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!!

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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!