Posts Tagged 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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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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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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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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Birthday “Bee” Cake

Last night we  had friends over to dinner to celebrate 3 birthdays in 2 days.  Neil’s birthday is today so we are looking forward to a nice day pootling about, generally chilling out and not doing too much.  But last night one of our friends arrived with a birthday cake for Neil shaped like a bee hive with little bees.  It was really brilliant.

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It was a honey and lemon cake to boot which made it even more appropriate.  The little bees she had made our of marzipan and liquorice with almond flakes for wings.  Very creative and what a lovely surprise!!

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Of Bees and hens and pheasants in the snow

None of the snow has cleared today.  It’s such a cold day, it’s just sitting where it fell.  Neil went down to clear the entrance to the beehive which was blocked with snow.  Not that the little bees want to come out and fly today, but they need air to circulate so they don’t suffocate.

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We’ve tried to entice the hens outside, but they don’t like putting their feet on the snow, so we cleared an area just outside the henhouse to encourage them out to scratch around and at least eat their food.  Big Chook was eating the snow.  Their water had frozen up so we put another smaller container of water nearer the hen house.  We still got 8 eggs today.  I thought they might go on strike in this bad weather, I’m surprised they are still laying.

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We have been feeding the birds, hanging up nuts and seeds. In particular we  want to ensure that the woodpeckers have sufficient suet and nuts to eat so that they won’t attack the beehive in search of honey and bees to eat.  This has happened to one of the beekeepers in the village last year.  The seeds disappear at the rate of knots, so we have also sprinkled some on the ground for the ground feeding birds like the blackbirds to peck at.  And then alongs comes Mr Pheasant thinking he will have a go at the seeds too.  He’s just like a big chicken scratching around on the ground, only he doesn’t mind his feet in the snow!!

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Our little monkey puzzle tree covered in snow looks like a mini snowman, very cute!!

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The woods look so beautiful with all the snow…..

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I particularly like this view of one of our gates in the snow.

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On the stables the snow has dripped, then frozen again, so there is quite an overhang.

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The forecasters say we are in for several days of this cold spell, so we may be snowed in for quite a while, but luckily we have plenty of supplies.

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