My plan for Saturday included some apiary updates. Things here tend to rot really quickly so some hive hardware needed replacing. We’ve been gradually replacing our plywood and pine hives with cedar ones which do tend to last a bit longer. I had a new flat-packed hive ready to build and today was the day.
I had been hoping to work on the apiary updates in glorious sunshine but that didn’t ever materialise. Instead we had a fairly grey, overcast day with a little bit of rain first thing. I therefore did a turbo trainer session on my bike first waiting for the sun. It hadn’t arrived by the time I was done so it was out into the garden with a jumper on for me.
There was no rush, but it didn’t take too long to build the complete hive. I recycled a set of brood frames as well, adding new foundation to them. There were a few spots of rain but it was otherwise nice and calm out there. The bees were flying in the apiary so I decided it was time to inspect them and replace the hive hardware.
To be honest, I was half expecting to see signs of swarming in both hives. They are both full of bees and now would be the ideal time for them to swarm. If this was the case the new hive and the spare cedar hive would have become homes for the splits. However, there was no sign of swarming. It was therefore time to move the frames full of bees out of their old, rotting hives into nice new ones.
I took the roof off the hive, moved the supers to one side and covered them with the crown board. I’d already set a stand up next to the hive. It had the new floor on it and an empty brood box. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but we have re-puposed some of the paving slabs that were taken up when we laid a new patio. These are in the apiary as bases for the hives which makes life a lot easier. Especially as there was a spare right next to the biggest hive which was ideal for this move.
I then carried out an inspection, moving each frame of bees out of the brood box and into the new one as I did so. I did swap out a few old frames with new ones too. All I had to do then was move the old brood box and floor out of the way and lift the new ones into it’s place. I then put the queen excluder in place and placed a new super on top. I could now move the super frames out of the old super and into the new one before replacing the crown board and roof and leaving them to it.
It was obviously quite a bit of disruption but the bees didn’t seem to mind. They stayed calm throughout and didn’t need smoking. None attacked me and they soon settled back down into their new hive. I did wonder if they would object to the strong smell of freshly cut cedar from the new hive. They don’t seem to mind so far.
The fact that the hive was configured with a double brood box made things a little more tricky. It did mean there an extra bit of lifting and moving to get things re-configured. The other hive went through a similar treatment too. They were moved into cedar hardware that had been sat in the apiary for a year or so ready for housing a split. This hadn’t happened so I thought I may as well use it now.
Back to Business
The sun never did come out but the bees remained busy anyway and things were looking good in the garden. The chives were covered in bees. The Irises and Aliums are in deep purple flower. The Spirea’s are looking cheerful even before flowering and the currants are coming along nicely. No doubt the birds will get to them before we do but that’s OK. Even the Hostas are doing well despite the very snail and slug friendly May that we’ve had. The wettest may on record.
I’ve created a little ‘fernery’ too and they seem to be doing well. There are two ferns that have been in for a couple of years now that are quite large, but I’ve added three new ones to it this year. Does 5 ferns count as a fernery? It does for me.
After admiring the garden I went through the remaining hive hardware. Some of it got discarded and will be burnt. The better bits were used to configure two hives are ready to house the inevitable swarms.
I cleared out the bee-keeping shed a little too. I found that one of my boxes of frame parts had filled with rain water. The wood was soaking wet and the foundation was too. I therefore laid it all out to dry, I built a ‘house of cards’ style foundation-drying tower in the shed. Most of it should be salvageable.