Peeblesshire Beekeepers Association

Monthly Archive: July 2016

Apiary Visit Sunday 31st July

We will be having an inspection at the association apiary on Sunday 31st July.
We will aim to start at 1.30pm, but as usual this will be weather permitting.
All welcome, please bring clean beesuits if you have them.
Please email Peter if you need directions or any other information.

Association Apiary Visit Saturday 23rd July

Saturday 23rd July

Mandy and Peter went to the apiary to do inspections on the original stocks and their swarm and/or split offspring.
They were joined by Stephen who has kept bees in London and is now hoping to do the same locally.
Stephen was interested in find out about local beekeeping and was able to give us a hand with the inspections.
We have been a bit slack with doing regular inspections due the weather, lack of manpower and the hiatus of the new stocks arriving recently.
This meant that several of the original stocks have swarmed in the meantime. A couple of swarms have been caught at the apiary so that wasn’t a disaster.
Hive 1, which had always been the least strong, had surprisingly swarmed. The new queen had just started laying and we found and marked her (white).
Hive 2 also looked like it had swarmed. There was no brood to be seen. However the bees seemed happy going about their business. We didn’t see a queen but we decided from the bees attitude that there was a new queen and that she would start laying soon. This hive needs to be checked for a laying queen next time.
Hive 3 was a split from Hive 5. There was sealed brood in here but the frames with brood were super frames (the queen in hive 5 escaped into the supers before the split). The bees had made lovely natural combs under the super frames but that meant the queen had plenty of places to hide. This colony wasn’t strong and will need some TLC.
Hive 4 was another case of a swarmed colony where the queen had just started laying. Stephen spotted the new queen and we marked her (white).
Hive 5 was a skyscraper of double brood and 4 supers! We saw brood in the top brood box so didn’t go any further since this one was obviously queen right.
We combined the supers so that there are 2 that are well filled and a third for the bees to use, and one removed. So down from skyscraper to tower block.
All the hives have some stores and spare super frames. If we get some decent weather the bees might make good use of the lime trees that have just started to flower.
We then looked at a large swarm that had been caught and hived. There were plenty bees and again the queen had just started laying. This is a colony that can be sold on to cover some apiary costs.
Lastly, the other split from old hive5 has been in a poly nuc for a while and is struggling, particularly at the moment from cheeky wasps who have chewed into the back of the box to tap into the feeder and are also being a nuisance at the entrance. We decided this one needed to get taken away from the apiary so it has gone away to Mandy.
All in all the 5 main colonies seem to be queen right and given decent weather should build up fine with their new queens.

Association Apiary 21st July

David and I spent a couple of hours at the apiary on Thursday: didn’t do a full inspection as it’s intended to have a Saturday meeting there with a full inspection.

Anyway: there are now 12 colonies at the apiary (plus Janet Dutch’s nuc, which will be moved out as soon as she’s back), and one at Kailzie. The 2nd one for Kailzie will be moved out early this coming week. Still waiting to hear back from Peter Elliott at Broughton, he’s been home a week or so now. If that’s not on, then will look for another site.
Two colonies are on double brood boxes: at least one could be split, which should give another nuc.
Over the last few weeks I have made up gallons and gallons of syrup, 5 complete hives, another 7 (or more?? lost track) supers with frames, 2 spare brood boxes, and have not had any time to look at my own bees this summer, poor souls. All the assistance that’s been coming in from this group is really appreciated.
This year’s nucs arrived 1st July in plywood boxes: the weather had been cold, and Solway had left them in those, rather than transferring them into their Correx travelling boxes. The weather continued cold and wet for over a week, but as they had plenty of stores, we were told they’d be fine for a few days. Three were then transferred to brood boxes and set up in the apiary.
One nuc box was taken to Kailzie and transferred to a brood box there, but the remaining nuc box had to wait another day – it was over-populated and bees were bearding on the outside. This was hived at the apiary, and will be transferred to Kailzie this coming week.
All the nucs have been growing at an impressive rate, galloping through syrup, and are now on at least 8 frames. 2 were so large the feeders were taken off and a super of frames added: this will need to be done for the other nucs, and we’ll need to decide whether to continue feeding syrup or leave them to forage for nectar. (Either way, more supers need to be made up)
Two of the original colonies are on double brood boxes – we could consider whether to split one or both, not sure which of the colonies provided the 2 swarms, but a full inspection will reveal that.
Still need to update the hive records, at least for the nucs and the swarm.
even allowing for each colony to retain a super of honey for overwintering, there are potentially 7 supers of honey to come off (between 80 – 150lbs). C. 10% of the frames only have starter strips for cut comb. Looks as if the order for jars will have to include some for the association, plus labels and cut comb boxes/labels. I suggest 1 and a half gross for the Assn; I’m pretty sure we’ll sell that amount of honey easily. I can also order up labels and cut comb boxes. Organising the harvest can be done at the next pub meeting: including honey for helpers/hive fosterers!
Spare colonies: potentially (if colonies are split) we have up to 4 that could go out to members. If we don’t split them, then we have 2, a swarm (large) and a small 3-frame nuc. (We have replaced a colony that died out over the winter)
If no-one else is desperate for it, I’d quite like the small nuc, it’s only on 3 frames so it’s the easiest to cut down to go onto a Smith): but ditto it would be suitable for Janet, if she wants another. With all the colonies on Nationals, it makes it difficult for anyone on Smiths to take a  5-plus frame colony. (Perhaps next year we could look at that?)

Apiary Visits 7th July

7th July with the  first break in the cool weather since the nucs arrived, 3 volunteers visited the apiary: 2 local guests arrived as well, and were loaned suits so they could have a good look at the hives. The intention was to check the original colonies and put the new nucs into hives. We immediately noticed that two colonies of bees had taken advantage of the first warm day in a week or so, and swarmed: 2 swarms were tucked up in a large shrub, one at shoulder height, the other about 12 feet up. The first priority was to recover the swarms: a good demonstration for our 2 guests, who were new to beekeeping. We have yet to check which colonies produced the swarms – we thought we’d pre-empted the swarming, but they’d defied our preparations!
    2 of our colonies were quite small, with no queen cells visible at the last check, and looked unlikely to swarm. Out of the other 2 – both already on double brood boxes so they could be split easily and reduce the risk of swarming  – one had already been reduced by taking out bees and combs to create 2 small nuclei.
So a rapid change of plans followed. The first job was to recover the lower swarm, which was fairly straight forward – it was put into a brood box that had been readied for one one the newly arrived nucs, with a queen excluder between floor and brood box, so that the queen was unable to leave. A super with feeder and syrup was added, and this colony settled down in a couple of days – the excluder was removed, and they consumed a full feeder of syrup every 2 days. They must be drawing out the foundation very rapidly, to produce combs so that the queen can start laying as soon as possible.
The second swarm was too high to reach with the equipment we had to hand, so we concentrated on transferring the newly arrived nucs into hives: we transferred 3 but the drizzle started up, then turned to rain, and we had to stop. The remaining nucs were put into hives the next day.
The swarm high up in the tree was finally caught by David, who returned with a ladder and the newly-purchased Association swarm catcher: it worked beautifully, and the swarm was taken away (the apiary having run out of brood boxes!)
Two of the new nucs will be cared for by a trio of beginners, at a separate site; three will be going to another apiary site, to be the core of a teaching apiary in another local area.

Apairy Visit Ettrick Valley

July 17th @ 2.30: Ettrick Valley.

Visit to Sheila Tyldesley’s apiary. Contact secretary for car share/location.

Please note: we usually have a picnic, so bring a suitable small item to share, and something to drink, if you want some. Parking can be limited at these sites, so please car share if possible – contact Secretary* if you need/can offer a lift, or need directions.

Pub Meeting 6th July

An informal chat about what’s happening at the association apiary, and beekeeping in general.

If you have any ideas for the association or questions about bees and beekeeping this is a great way to get information from other beekeepers.

The meetings are at 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of the month in the back bar of the Neidpath Inn in Peebles.