Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? It seems like only two minutes since the last letter! We are, at least, enjoying weather a few degrees warmer and the rain has stopped coming every day. That said the recent gales were a bit nasty and caused significant disruption – our bees survived though and we’re happy for that. Since the last letter we have had our freedom restored to a greater degree and have been able to have a good look at the hives. The club even has its own QR code - Life is looking up!
Most of our girls are doing well. We have 3 hives at home and look after 4 for someone else – 2 of the home hives are horizontal types and one a flow hive. The girls in the single floor homes are going great guns with high numbers and no sign of disease or pest so we are happy with them. Unfortunately, the girls in the flow hive (Super not yet in place) are doing less well and are suffering from chalk brood with low numbers and the hive suffers from dampness. The question is why? I’ve come to the conclusion that they are in the wrong place, even though they are between the two horizontal hives. The difference? A tree. I think there is too much shade and the canopy doesn’t allow good airflow around the hive. I also made the mistake of leaving the girls in a double brood box over winter and the girls simply couldn’t get warm enough and suffered dampness as a result. So, the they are now in a single box and I will be taking a chain saw to the non-native tree (yes, wearing my bees suit). If that doesn’t sort them out I will have to move them. Ho hum.
Why have I come to these conclusions? Well, on the other side of town I have a similar situation – a row of three hives over the space of a meter and a half, two going great guns the other not so well. In the hives doing well the girls are just amazing, how they all fit in I’ll never know, but fit they do. In the third hive we have a similar situation to our flow hive at home. The difference? A shed. The weaker hive sits at the corner of a shed and I believe the extra shade and changed air flow don’t allow the girls to stay warm and dry. I’m not sure I can ask the owner to move the shed but I’ll think of something!
I have only been keeping bees for a year now, and any honey we’ve got has been fed back to the girls to keep them going and make their lives a bit easier. I love keeping bees, and I’m fascinated by them and their social structure, they always lead me to ask ‘what can I learn from that?’ In this instance, think long and hard about where you are going to site your hives – it could make a huge difference to your bees and (consequently) your honey harvest!
As ever, there is lots going on at this time of year, more so this year for obvious reasons. Whatever your situation, I hope you are well, your bees healthy and you are looking forwards to our first face to face meeting in February – I know we are!