Archive for Bees

Collecting the Honey

It was the right time to year for Neil to collect the honey from his strongest hive.  He had put 3 supers on to give them plenty of room to store the honey.  But when he looked they had only filled the frames in 2 supers.  He donned his new all-in-one suit to collect the frames.

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(That’s shadow on his face, he has not grown a moustache!!)

Yesterday we set to spinning the frames.  First he uncapped them one by one.

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Then two at a time he put them in the spinner. Centrifugal force pushes the honey out and it is collected in large jar below, first going through a sieve to collect any wax.

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It’s wonderful to see the golden liquid collecting in the jar.

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Then it has to be poured into jars and weighed to get exactly one pound in weight that is 454g.  That was my job.

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We got quite a haul.  The jars are just waiting for their labels to be printed and then we will be ready to sell some.  It will be £6.00 a jar.  Don’t forget this is an expensive premium product, not mass produced, hence the cost. All proceeds go back into care of the bees.

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visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Bees in the roof

The men have been working on redoing the whole roof, with new timbers and insulation (that we never had before) and relaying the tiles and slates.  However near one of the chimneys they discovered a number of bees, so Neil and Harry Pym ( the boss of the builders) donned bee suits and went up the ladders to investigate.  Neil removed tiles and found a fully formed bees nest with combs they had built themselves. They had been there some time as Neil could tell from the colour of the combs.  It would appear they had built the comb into an old chimney flue.

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He smoked the bees to pacify them and then gradually started removing the comb they had built and putting it into frames and into a hive.

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Of course there were lots of bees buzzing around all the time and Neil just hoped he had captured the queen and put her into a frame in the hive, so the other bees would follow. In spite of this neither Neil nor Harry got stung.

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He got a good view from on top of the roof.

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Neil took the frames and put them into a hive at the bottom of the garden, complete with their stores, so they have some food to keep them going, but he also put a feeder in with some sugar syrup solution as extra feed.  On a sunny day we have seen some bees coming and going so we are hoping that the hive will take and be strong to see through the winter.

In the meantime the men have now finished the roof.  It looks lovely and straight and secure.  Here they are putting in the roofing felt and insulation.

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Then finishing off the lead around the chimney.

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The roof looks really good now and is not only straight but probably good for the next 150 years!

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We should be warm and toasty with the new insulation and hopefully the bees are too in their new hive.  We shall have to watch them carefully to see they make it through into the Spring.

The B&B is still open at the moment, but will have to close temporarily in the New Year when the work to put a new supporting steel comes into my kitchen and causes lots of disruption.

see us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Free-bees and honey too!

Neil is a swarm contact for the Taunton Beekeepers and last week he took a phone call from a lady in Wambrook near Chard, who said she had a hive of bees she wanted to get rid of.  They had belonged to her Father in Law and he had become indisposed and was no longer able to care for them.  They were near the house and her daughter was afraid to go into the garden because of them.  So Neil duly went over to investigate and what he found was a strong hive of bees and a super full of frames of honey.  It was really heavy so he brought back the super first and then went back for the brood box and then put the hive back together down by our woods.

Next he put an excluder on so the bees could vacate the honey rich super but not get back in.  Then in the evening he went down to remove the honey heavy frames and bring them up to the house.

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Yesterday we extracted the honey from the frames.  First Neil uncapped the frames.

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Then we put 2 frames at a time into the honey spinner, where centrifugal force means the honey is flung out of the frames into the spinner.  Neil put a drill on the handle to get it to spin faster than if we turned it by hand.

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We then opened the tap at the bottom and let the honey flow out through a sieve to catch any wax and into a honey bucket.

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Of course we got a bit sticky in the process and had to keep licking our fingers!!!  Mmmm – delicious.

The cappings we put into a strainer bag and let the honey from them drip through.

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The last job was to pour the strained honey into jars.  We just did a few today, and gave a jar each to our 2 neighbours and one to a friend. We shall take a jar to the lady who gave us the bees.  I’m not sure we will have loads of it but it is gorgeous and viscous and quite dark and of course to us it was free!

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If you want honey on your toast at our B&B visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Bees in a box!!

Neil got a call from BT to say that bees had got into one of their roadside connection boxes, and the engineer had beat a hasty retreat and requested some help.  So today Neil packed up all his equipment that he might need for capturing bees and met up with the BT engineer and drove to this isolated location where the box was.  When he arrived it was not immediately apparent where the box was as it was surrounded and almost hidden by blackberry bushes. This is Sam the BT engineer with the box.

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Neil then donned his bee suit and wellies and looked further into the cabinet.  This is what he saw:

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Neil thought this was a large swarm and fired up his trusty smoker and gave them several puffs of smoke.  When the bees started to move it was apparent that they had been there for some while as they had started to produce comb with sealed nectar stores. This made it a bit more awkward as he had originally planned to brush them down into a large cardboard box that had a sheet in it. The plan changed to using a paint scraper to dislodge the wax comb and drop them into his small nuc box hive.  Due to the size of the swarm he took the five frames out of the box and deposited the bees and their comb into it.  He then brushed the remainder of the bees from the back of the box and removed any outstanding comb.

He sealed the nuc box up and brought it back home.  The BT box was closed back up and the hole where there had been a missing screw was sealed to stop bees getting back inside.

Back home he emptied the bees into a full size hive and gave them a feeder with one to one solution of syrup (water and sugar).  They are getting used to their new home and are taking down the syrup and will hopefully start drawing out new comb on the brood frames in his hive.

Maybe we will get some honey after all this year!!

 

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Visit to Barrington Court

On Monday afternoon, grabbing a sunny few hours, we decided to visit Barrington Court, which is a National Trust house not far from us here.

On approaching the house there was a meadow full of sorrel and other wild flowers.

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Neil was pleased to see that in a wild spot of the grounds there were several bee hives.

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The house is empty of furniture at the moment but in June and July the BBC will be filming here, so they will be kitting it out with their own props.  They will be filming “Wolf Hall” which is the story of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s time.  Damien Lewis ( who was in Homeland) will be playing Henry VIII.  Other actors appearing will be Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones).  We were told that Barrington Court will be doubling up for Hampton Court, where unfortunately they cannot film.  They will be using some of the grand rooms with their large fireplaces.

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There were fabulous tiles in the bathrooms, although I don’t expect they will be filming there.

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I hope they use the gardens too as they were lovely.  This picture was taken in the “White garden”.

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I love this little statue in the kitchen garden.

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The flower borders were lovely too.

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I really like the roses by the old stables.

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And the gorgeous Wisteria, one of my favourite flowers:-

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If you want to visit Barrington Court yourself, use our B&B as a base.  Quite a few vacancies now for June.

Look us up at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Fun with the bees

Yesterday Neil got a call from a friend who is a beekeeper to say she had a swarm of bees and would Neil like them.  He jumped at the chance since all his bees had died last year.  So Jan caught the swarm in a box and a sheet and brought them over and emptied them out where Neil had prepared a hive for them.  He put a piece of hardboard across the stand and hoped that they would process along the ramp and into the hive.  but unfortunately instead they settled under the ramp, in a big cluster around the queen.

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Neil put a pheromone lure and a sugar syrup feed (one to one ratio of sugar and water)  into the hive to encourage them into it, but we were sitting in the front garden this afternoon having a cup of tea and we suddenly heard this loud buzzing coming towards us, and they had swarmed again.  Now they have settled in a tree the other side of our garage, a really difficult place to get to.  It seems they weren’t interested in taking up home in Neil’s nice new hive for them, but maybe they are just a flighty lot and will keep on moving.  Anyhow it would appear we have lost them now.  Such a shame as I was looking forward to some of our own honey again.

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Moving the bees

During the cold spell we have had, Neil decided to move the bees into the woods.  It is best to move them when they are more or less dormant and there is no activity outside the hive.  He moved them from the side of our field, near to where the hens are just about 100 yards into the woods. This will enable us to extend the hen run without being too close to bees.

He made a special stand for the hive at waist height, so as not to have to bend down to examine the hive.  He made it big enough to take 2 hives so when he gets another hive of bees later this year, he can also position them there.

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The above picture is taken looking down the slope into the woods.  You might wonder what the green bags are for either side of the hive. Well that is to flap about and put off any woodpeckers from pecking the hive and eating the bees.

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This is the front of the hive, where you can see we have strapped the hive down to the stand, this is to stop any deer from dislodging it.

Even although today it is a sunny day, the hive has not warmed up enough for the bees to start flying again.  But now that Spring is on its way hopefully they will start flying again soon.

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STOP PRESS:  we still have availability at the B&B for Easter Sunday 31st March and Bank Holiday Monday 1st April

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