Tuesday 8 December 2009

Christmas Meal - Monday 7th December, 2009

[click on any image to see the full gory details!]

Just a quick post mainly to thank Beenie for arranging last nights YABeeP social gathering and meal 

Whilst not everyone could make it (in particular we hope you are feeling better John!) those that did attend had a really great time. The choice of venue was excellent - Peter & Sue's recommendation I understand - and we all enjoyed really first class cuisine. As always, the banter was first class yet, despite being a bee group, most of the chit chat I heard was more of a social nature, just as it should be.

Having seen the picture of herself brandishing a saw at Ray in a most aggressive manner in the Bumble workshop page, Beenie thought that we ought to have a caption competition for the photographs. It is in this spirit that I post some pictures from last night celebrations - please feel free to email any suggestions to her!

I plan to circulate a suggested schedule for meetings next year in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, 'er indoors and I wish all YABeeP members, associates and their bees a very

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Please feel free to edit or comment on this entry 

Sunday 6 December 2009

Bumbles & Solitary bees - Yet another fun workshop

Just a quick entry to acknowledge the really great YABeeP Bumble and Solitary bee home building workshop we held yesterday - Saturday 5th December 2009.

Ray had kindly offered us the use of his under cover workshop facilities (double garage!) so several of us assembled at his place in Cheddar on yet another sunny morn' – the sun seems to always shine on our workshops and meetings so we must be doing something right!

Marc Carlton, from the excellent Gardens for Wildlife website which gives bee-friendly, and other pollinating insect, gardening advice, had very kindly come 'over the water' to join us.

After coffee, Marc kicked off proceedings by giving us a short talk passing on his experience and expertise on solitary and bumble bees, plus giving us some tips on how to make our bee boxes more attractive to their intended lodgers. His experience with solitary bee homes means we should expect to see a changing environment of pollinating insects take up residence as they mature and further species move in to replace others already in residence. Indeed, Marc suggested that they will not only provide a focus for insects, but for other species as Great Tits, Woodpeckers, small mammals and others find them a healthy source of larvae proteins. Perhaps some chicken wire is called for for insect protection!

Following the talk the assembled crowd broke out into Ray's garage and split into small groups to make up the boxes according to plans we had secured. Piles of pallet wood had been brought by several members who clearly seemed to have honed the art of scavenging recycled materials. First prise here must surely go to Lou who had pre-cut her substantial stock into neatly bundled piles ready to start.

The box building parties beavered away in what seemed like a friendly a spirit of competition, taking the occasional pause to chat amongst themselves, pick Marc's brain, exchange insults, or just socialise – some were even noted not to be working at all but just sitting around 'supervising' !!! Proceedings were then brought to a sudden halt when Annette, Ray's partner, appeared armed with more hot drinks and a healthy pile of home-made bacon sarnies.

Not that we were in competition but Lou and Simon did seem to be first at assembling a new box – though I rather expect that they must have cheated as they were suspiciously quiet in their labour!!! I lost count of the number of boxes that were made on the day but suffice it to say that the group now have should be in a strong position to increase our stocks of pollinating insects this coming season.

It was yet another enjoyable morning for all – I really can't understand why, when we come together to work hard, we end up having such fun!

Thanks go to all for coming along and making it such an enjoyable success, but especially we need to thank the following:
  • Marc for coming over from Chepstow to teach us despite the Transport Gods conspiring against him with the closure of the Severn Tunnel and the disruption to bus timetables;
  • Simon & Lou for so gallantly solving Mar's last minute transport problem;
  • Ray and Annette for opening up their home to us and providing the drinks and sarnies;
  • John for masterminding the organisation of the day and bullying me to send out emails, etc. on his behalf;
  • all of those who brought along the mountain of building materials, tools and supplies
  • and others for bringing the biscuits to keep us all going between meals!

Now I must rest to gain strength for Monday's Christmas get-together – does it never end!!!!

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

Saturday 21 November 2009

Bumble & Solitary Bee Home Workshop - 5th December

It's now only 2 weeks until we meet for the YABeeP bumble/solitary bee day on 5th December.

The purpose of the day is to build bumblebee nest boxes and/or solitary bee homes either as useful Christmas presents to give, or for your own use. Click here to see the YABeeP bumblebee home plans, or here to see an excellent example solitary bee box by Marc Carlton.

We will be meeting at Ray's in Cheddar (an email with venue details has been sent to YABeeP members). The meeting will start at 10:00 am, but come along when you can. It would help Ray if you could let him know if you are attending either by phone or email.

Jon will be providing some pallet planks and bits of timber he has managed to purloin (!) but if you have, or see in a skip, any of the following materials then please bring them on the day and we can make use of them:
  • bamboo canes
  • pallet planks, whole pallets or misc planking
  • logs of varying firewood sizes
  • 4" x 2" pieces of timber (or larger)
  • perspex sheeting
  • bits of chicken wire or similar
Similarly, we will be providing the necessary tools but if you want to bring your own please do.

See you there or at the YABeeP Christmas drink on 7th December.

Robin & Jon

UPDATE: 29 Nov:

I am pleased to say that Marc Carlton form the Gardens for Wildlife website is joining us on Saturday 5th December from Chepstow. He will kindly give us a quick chat drawing from his experience on bumbles and solitaries before we start so we can adapt our boxes accordingly.

Because of a tip he has already passed on to me can I ask any of you who have family pet mice, rats, gerbils, etc. to collect old bedding you clean out and bring it on the day. Apparently the 'aroma' of old mice bedding is a bumblebee attractant - pooh!

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

Gardening for Bees

Gardening for Bees - and other pollinating insects

We had always planned to have a page on the YABeeP website to give guidance on gardening for bees although, with other priorities in this our first year, this stayed 'on the back burner'.

Fortunately, in 2010 one of our members in the gardening game professionally gave us an excellent presentation on Planting for Bees, a summary of which is now published on the website to provide this advice for all.

We have also discovered another website by Marc Carlton which not only gives excellent advice with downloadable fact sheets but also follows the sustainable principles that YABeeP encourages. As there is no sense in reinventing the wheel I would encourage all members and others who visit this site to use Marc's excellent Gardens for Wildlife website for bee-friendly, and other pollinating insect, gardening advice. 

The whole website is very well written with sound advice, not only for those who actively house bees of whatever species, but also if you want a wildlife-friendly, more natural and sustainable garden. In particular make sure you read his Basics page, download his Wildlife Gardening fact sheets and plant lists', see his bumblebee and gardens page with yet more fact sheets and make sure that you build a solitary bee some following his useful Make a Home for Solitary Bees page. Marc has also produced an excellent Bibliography (330KB pdf file) where you can do a keyword search for topics of interest - good on you Marc!

Originally from London Marc is now just over the water in Chepstow so we can welcome him a near neighbour.

Please Note: The content of Marc's website is subject to copyright. He has kindly made it available for personal use or non-commercial educational purposes only but re-publication without permission is prohibited.

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

Tuesday 10 November 2009

How to make a Bumblebee box from a recycled pallet

This post describes how to use an old pallet to make a bumblebee box - now that's recycling!

Click on any picture to enlarge.

Tools required:
  • Hand saw
  • Drill (for pilot holes for screws)
  • Wood glue
  • Screws - size 4 x 50mm (Imperial 8 x 2")
Step 1 – Preparation
The easiest way is to cut the planks from between the bars of the pallet as shown. Make the cuts square (use a set square if possible) and as near to the bar as you can to maximise the timber you use. You will need to cut the following planks:

  • 3 x roof pieces (A) - make these each the same length and as long as your cut planks will permit
  • 6 x floor/sides pieces (B) – cut these 40mm shorter than your roof pieces A
  • 4 x end lengths (C) – these needs to be the width of your planks x 2 .
If you choose to add the optional vestibule you also need:
  • 2 x vestibule pieces (D) – again these need to be the width of your planks x 2 minus 3mm (or the thickness of your perspex)
  • 2 x off-cuts
  • piece of perspex
Step 2 – Floor
To make the floor take two equal lengths of the floor/side pieces (B).

Drill 4 pilot holes in the corners of each piece. Use another plank to mark the width along each end (see illustration) then drill the holes midway.

Glue the butting sides and place together as in the illustration.

Step 3 – Add the Front

To make the front and back ends take one of the side/floor pieces (B).

Use a hole cutter to cut a 25mm entrance hole in one end.

If you don't have a hole cutter cut a 25 x 25mm notch from the corner of the front section.

Glue and screw front to one end of floor.

Step 4 – Add the back

Take another of the side/floor pieces (B) and glue and screw it to the back

Step 5 – Add lower sides

To make bottom sides cut 2 further lengths the same as the floor, glue and screw these to the sides.

Note that the top surface of the sides does not come up to the ends. This is deliberate.

Step 6 – Add upper sides

Take two more floor/side pieces (B),
glue and screw them in place as shown. Ensure that one of the pilot holes allows you to screw the side pieces to front/back pieces where they overlap.
Step 7 – Add upper ends
These will need to be cut lengthwise first. To do this put in place, draw a line joining the tops of each side then cut off the edge (shown on red in illustration).

Once cut glue and screw in place.

Step 8 – Add vestibule (optional)
Whilst a vestibule is not essential it is recommended.
To make, take 2 lengths of planking and stand inside your box about 40mm from the entrance. Cut level with the top or if you are adding a viewing window cut to be 3mm shorter than the top.

Cut a 25mm hole in one piece and position to be the opposite side to the entrance hole. Again if you don't have a hole cutter make a 25mm notch in one corner.

When cut to size glue and screw in place.
Step 9 – Add viewing window (optional)
Using a couple of off-cut pieces of wood glue viewing window supports 3mm below the top at the two rear corners. Together with the vestibule entrance, these will support the perspex viewing window.

If you choose not to add a vestibule then you will also need to add two more supports to the front corners.

Cut a piece of 2mm perspex to fit the inside dimensions of your box. Place this to rest on the vestibule and corner supports.

NB: Please don't use a window as an excuse to keep peeking in. Best to only rarely look as frequent disturbance will cause your bees to abscond.

Step 10 – Fit a roof
Take your three long planks (C) and glue together.
Cut two off-cuts and glue and screw across these at the edges to reinforce.

Add 2 further off-cuts at the sides to stop the roof sliding off sideways.

Alternatively you can add hinges to secure the roof.

You've done it!

The end result should look like this:

To download a 4 page pdf file (591 KB) of these instructions
click here.

To see a 3D model of this bee box
click here, you can rotate the model if you click on the '3D View' button. If you have the excellent Google Sketchup programme (free download here) installed on your PC then you can download the model from this same link.

In the UK your box needs to be in position by January as that is when Buff Tail Bumblebee queens start
emerging from hibernation and seeking their nest sites. If you can add some used bedding from pet mice, hamsters, gerbils, etc.. Apparently the 'aroma' of old mice bedding is a bumblebee attractant!

For information about bumbles see the YABeeP's Bumblebee page. For further advice on Bumblebees see the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's website and Wikipedia's Bumblebee pages.

Friday 30 October 2009

The Co-op's film

Stop Press

This film, sponsored by the Co-operative sociey as part of their Plan Bee campaign will screen in The Watershed, Bristol on Sunday, 29th November at midday. Book tickets online here.

To see the Co-op's campaign and sign their petition click here.

How to Modify a standard Warré floor

Update - May 2011: Since drafting this page in 2009, I have come to believe that using this method for monitoring varroa is not beneficial. Sliding a piece of card into the entrance works just as well if you want to monitor hive debris. I would certainly never leave a varroa screen and tray in a beehive as they provide an area of the hive that the colony cannot access to clean/sterilise. As such the area below the screen/tray becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and pests. In my view the success of the Warré hive is down to the low disturbance management method. Opening the hive, even at the floor level, disrupts this and disturbs the bees thermodynamic control. Unless you intend to treat you hive with a synthetic miticide then why bother to monitor them? Surely it's better to give them what they need to live hygienically and manage their own mite levels and that means not disturbing them. 

This simple modification will adapt your standard Warré floor into one which will allow you to a) monitor your Varroa mite drop and b) feed your bees from below the colony with syrup/fondant without the need to remove the roof, quilt or take off the bee boxes.

Materials required:

  • 1.5 mts length of wood 100mm x 20mm (why not use an old pallet)
  • varroa screen 300mm x 300mm (YABeeP holds a supply of this for members use)
  • thin material for tray 300mm x 300mm
NB: Click on any image to see it enlarged

1. Block off old entrance
Cut and stick into place a piece of wood to fill the old entrance - shown as yellow in illustration.

2. Add front and sides
Glue and screw 2 sides and a front - shown in blue in illustration

  • Sides 100mm high x length of your floor minus 20mm (to accommodate rear door
  • Front 100mm high x width of floor minus 2 sides
  • Cut new entrance 120mm wide x 20mm deep in centre top of front piece:

3. Add a landing board
NB: This stage is optional as bees don't need a landing board but they do assist observation and photography.
Glue and screw a new landing board to base of new entrance hole shown in green in illustration. Dimensions around 160mm wide x 40mm deep:

4. Add runners for varroa screen
Stick 2 strips to the inside of sides shown in pink in illustration 4.These slope from just below top of side at rear to just below level of entrance hole at front and will support your varroa screen:

5. Add removable door
Add door to rear, shown on red in illustration

  • 100mm high x width of your Warré floor
  • close with catches, clips or ties

6. Add varroa screen & mite tray
Cut a varroa monitoring screen to the size of your box and place onto (pink) side strips. Also cut a second tray made from a sheet of thin material (hardboard, plastic, etc.) and lay this on the floor – see illustration
. NB: mesh size needs to be 8 holes per inch.

How to Use

Varroa monitoring and counting - To use for varroa monitoring open door, slide in varroa screen and varroa tray then close door. You can then access varroa tray to count your mite drop as and when required. You can also paint a sticky medium onto your tray with Vaseline or vegetable oil to trap the mites.

Feeding sugar syrup/fondant – To use as a bottom feeder slide out the varroa screen then place container of sugar syrup or fondant on the bottom - you can use the varroa board to help slide it in. Please note: If you use syrup ensure that a mesh float is used to prevent the bees from drowning in the syrup.

This 'How to Modify a standard Warré floor' guide can be downloaded as a 2 page pdf file here.
You can download the 3D Google Sketchup model here. (Sketchup is a free programme that allows you to view, create and share 3D models. If you upload this file into Sketchup you can view it from all angles, pan and zoom, take detailed measurements and do many other things)

Tuesday 20 October 2009

End of Season meeting - 17th October 2009

For those of you who couldn’t make it here is a quick summary of the last meeting of the season held on Saturday 17th October. Thanks to all those who attended, yet again it was a full and very vibrant meeting despite a few members being away!

Two new members, John and Becky, were welcomed to the ever growing fold. We now have over 20 families involved – not bad when you think we only started this March.

2009 Season review
Being the end of the 2009 season we recapped on our successes/failures over the year. It was agreed that 2009 had, yet again, not been a good year for honeybees. Weather-wise we did have a great spring which allowed the bees to build up really strongly but this was followed by a disastrous July and August (don’t we all know it!) which gave food supply difficulties for the large colonies which had built up. Consensus amongst other UK sustainable beekeepers on the Biobee forum seemed to agree with this. With hindsight (aint it a wonderful thing) it was agreed that perhaps we should have actively fed colonies this summer.

However, amongst the group 11 new honeybee colonies had been started, all but 1 from swarms, the other from a package of bees. Of these four swarms had died out – 1 was poisoned - source later identified; 1 the queen was found dead in the initial swarm; 1 was a failed split; 1 reason as yet unknown – see below.

The major problem we faced was a shortage of swarms as 3 others in the group had hives built and ready to go later in the season had they been available. Also a few others would have liked to populate second hives. The wet summer was one factor contributing to this problem but it was also felt that the Local Authority was favouring certain Swarm Liaison Officers. With luck we should fair better next year provided our 7 colonies make it through the winter as these will be a source of future swarms for us. We will also consider starting our own apiary (see below).

Dave kindly brought along his hive which had recently died out when he was away. This hive was started in mid June, just before the weather turned. From the comb build-up it obvious that they had started well and there was evidence of queen cells being built so queen problems may have been the issue. Poisoning or starvation are the other suspects but Dave has wisely kept some of the dead bees and at John’s suggestion will send them to FERA for analysis.

End of season housekeeping
We discussed ensuring that hive entrances were reduced against bee robbing and mouse attack – Plug all but 1 entrance hole on horizontal hive and fit mouse guard on Warrés – an example Warré mouse guard was shown. [NB: for those unable to make these we can knock up a few at the December workshop – see below]

Feeding was also discussed (see footnote) and a couple of examples of adapted Warré floors to facilitate winter feeding without opening the hives were shown. [NB: Again, for those unable to make these we can make them at the December workshop]

Bumble & Solitary bees
2009 had focussed heavily on honeybees but it was agreed that we would all like to do more for other bees. 3 of the group had hosted bumbles collected from call-outs. More were prepared to do so next year and/or place nests in their gardens in preparation for Jan/Feb when the queens are looking for new homes. See the Bumblebee Conservation Trust site for details. It was agreed that we would hold a Bumble & Solitary bee’s house workshop to build boxes which John kindly volunteered to take forward. This needs to be done before Christmas as a) some bumbles decide on their nest sites in Jan and b) solitary boxes make great Christmas pressies! [Workshop now arranged for 5th December, check your emails.]

YABeeP Apiary
The idea was mooted that we should be aiming to have our own apiary in the longer term. Amongst other benefits this would provide an option for those unable to keep bees on their own land and could provide a potential stock from which to breed bees to supply future members. Juley reported that YACWAG , the local nature conservation group, have expressed an interest in having bees on one of their land holdings which could tie in quite well. Juley will explore this with them although there could be a delay as it cannot go ahead until we get the hives built and populated with bees. We also agreed that members already awaiting bees should be given bees as a priority.

Next season
We agreed to start next season with a Honeybee hive building workshop around late February/March (Robin to arrange) for new members who have joined over the winter period and want to prepare for the season. This workshop to also include building horizontal hives as well as the Warrés.

Monthly meetings would again start in 2010 around April though we may go to every other month as the season progresses.

We discussed the possibility of more publicity for YABeeP and possible bee house building for children though it was felt that the group was naturally growing organically without it and a membership push may result in a demand for bees that we cannot meet.

Bits and bobs
There was some interest expressed in the possibility of arranging a Christmas social get-together, possibly a pub meet. Beanie kindly agreed to take this forward.

Juley’s reported that the conventional beekeeper who was using her land had given up following his bees absconding twice. She has since discovered honeycomb built in one of her bumblebee nesting boxes and wonders if they absconded his National hive in favour of her natural box!

To feed bees use a sugar syrup solution by mixing sugar into hot water. Use granulated white sugar - do NOT use unrefined or brown sugar as this can cause dysentery in the bees. Cane sugar is best (Tate & Lyle’s regular granulated is marked as cane) as pesticides are used on beet sugar crops in the UK.
In autumn the feed should be 2:1 i.e. 1 kilo of sugar to ½ litre of water (2lbs to1 Pint). It is better to feed a large amount over a short period rather than little and often or you risk stimulating the queen to start new brood - not desirable just before winter.
If you need to feed in spring or summer use a more dilute mix of 1 kilo of sugar to 1 litre of water (1lb sugar to 1 Pint water).
In winter (Jan & Feb) do not use syrup as the bees may not have the ability to dehydrate it enough to prevent fermentation. Over winter use sugar fondant which the bees can eat. Download a simple bee fondant recipe from the Edinburgh Beekeepers (16KB) or use this recepie and how to article from Bee Craft.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Jenny's Bees Have Swarmed

To my great surprise I looked out of my window on Sunday morning, 9th August, to see lots of bees flying around - too many for a normal day! I rushed outside and lo and behold, my hive had produced a swarm and there they were, whizzing about in a cloud above my head, looking for a new home.

Prepared to follow and capture them, I didn't have to go anywhere, as they went into the copse next door and chose a very tall tree, and the top of that very tall tree, to cluster in. What do I do now I thought. Fire brigade? Helicopter?

Rushed indoors, rang Robin. He's out. Dave was just leaving to go camping. Nor could I get hold of the ace tree climber Lou who is waiting for bees, so I left her a message. Neither of the local bee catchers, both of whom were absolute stars in trying to help, could come up with anything other than putting out a lure box, which I had already done. I had no wax or comb so used a drop of lemon grass to scent the boxes.

Lou and Simon get my message and come over with various bits of hive, hoping to have the swarm. Yours if you can catch it I say helpfully, lending them my binoculars. Much humming and haaing and testing of branches goes on, but this is a really tall tree, a really, really tall tree, and the bees are out on - you guessed it - a limb. We have a cup of tea. We decide there is nothing more to be done except wait. They go home again, hoping that I ring them to say the swarm is reachable.

At 7 pm the bees are still in the same place. I am extremely concerned about their overnight chances. At this point I have very mixed feelings. I appear to have succeeded in increasing the bee population - but after gloomy predictions from the traditional brigade, am worried about their overnight chances.

The next day they are still there and still rejecting the now numerous lure boxes and an extra hive provided by Robin. The sun shines until lunchtime when the wind gets up and the tree top sways alarmingly. I check again mid-afternoon and the bees have gone.

I haven’t seen them since so I’m hoping for the best, that they have done what bees have done for millennia, and found themselves a cosy new home.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Madame Guillotine - Calling all builders and bodgers

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the end of season is already on its way. I've still not heard the first Christmas songs in the supermarket but it is time we started planning for winter.

We will cover preparations for autumn at the next meeting. For those with Warré hives this may mean some lifting. Though if the summer continues fine and the bees carry on building so well then some of us may have to lift their hives before this to add further boxes.

I was originally planning to build a hive lift for use among the group. A lift makes it easier for one person to add boxes and it's more gentle on the bees. Remember, once filled with honey and stores those light boxes change reather dramatically! However, I have come to realise that there are others better skilled than me in the building department so thought it prudent to issue a challenge to the group to see if anyone else is up for the task.

this link to see what's involved, unless of course you wish to design your own alternative so how about it - does anyone fancy a small project?

Don't worry if building is not your bag. In fact at last Saturdays meeting Peter suggested a simple alternative manual lifting cradle that can easily be used which requires 4 people, 2 to lift, one to steady plus one to move boxes. As he rightly points out the beauty of having a group like YABeeP is that we can all muck in and help each other - this way we get to see each others hives.

If you fancy the challenge, and with it the admiration of the group, let please me know.

Finally, just an early reminder that the next meeting is Saturday 15th August if you wish to come along - venue yet to be agreed so if you fancy a go at hosting please let me know. Also many thanks to Janice & Andrew for holding last Saturday's meeting and to Simon for the biscuits.


UPDATE: added March 2012
Since writing this page we never actually made a guillotine - there turned out to be no need. Indeed, I've yet to find someone who uses them.

In theory a Warré is opened twice a year - in Spring to add empty boxes beneath and at end of summer/autumn to harvest and reduce the hive for wintering. In fact it is only truly opened, that is the top taken off, in the autumn.

In spring the hives are empty of stores and consequently fairly light so one person lifts top 2 boxes, which retains the hive atmosphere1 as heat and scent rises, while another slips empty boxes beneath. In the autumn the top box is removed for harvesting so you've already released the 
nestduftwärmebindung. It therefore makes sense to split the lower boxes as required to shrink the hive as required, after all it's just a once a year interference and you'll be doing it on a warm to hot day.

If it's required to open the hive a third time, for example due to suspicion of infection or to deal with some other problem, then you just split the boxes which you'll need to do anyway for a full inspection.

Compare that to the weekly inspections of a National or the number of times you have to open a horizontal hive to straighten the comb. No wonder bees seem healthier in a Warré!


March 2012

1 The principle of 
nestduftwärmebindung is key to the success of the Warré hive. Click here to download Johann Thür's 'Beekeeping: natural, simple and successful' translated by Dr. David Heaf which outlines this principle.

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Moving a swarm into your Warré hive

Catching a swarm of bees is normally achieved by shaking, knocking, or sweeping them into a container supplied by the beekeeper, then allowing them until dusk to settle in order to catch all the scout bees that are out on 'house hunting' visits. This is normally followed by a further move when they are either again shaken into their new hive or onto a cloth covered ramp to ‘walk in’ to their new hive - see pictures at the foot of this post. All this shaking is certainly not natural and can be quite stressful on them. Even during the hours between their initial capture and the subsequent transfer to their new hive they will already have expended considerable energy settling in and building some comb.

In order to try and reduce this stress I have developed a Warré catching system that removes the second stage of this process completely. Basically, at the initial capture the bees are caught straight into their final destination hive.

As a member of YABeeP we will try and source a swarm for you. In order to use this bee-friendly swarm system, when your hive is 100% complete and ready to receive bees (see this 'Finishing touches to a Warre' page) you need to let me have your top box - that's the one with the hessian sheet stuck to the top with flour/water paste. When I go out on swarm calls I will capture the bees straight into this box which is then placed onto a specially modified swarm capture floor.

This floor has swinging lugs which holds the front of it open to allow any returning scout bees to join the swarm. By dusk all the bees will have returned and be happily clinging to the roof of the hive box already busy settling in.

The new hive owner is then given directions to the box location and, once dusk has arrived, they can easily collect the swarm by swinging the 2 lugs to the closed position, gently closing the front of the box, securing it for the journey with the ratchet strap and then you are free to travel safely home with your new swarm.

Once at the final hive location the box is placed beside the hive, the securing strap is loosened and it is left to settle from the journey for about 10 minutes. While waiting make ready the rest of the hive by removing the quilt box and roof leaving one or two (no more) Warré boxes on the base. Once the bees have settled just gently lift the box and place it on top of your hive stack, add the quilt box and roof – job done! The bees will all be in the roof of the collecting hive box and no bees will fly out during this process provided it's done after dusk.

Not only does this make life gentler on the bees with only one move, it also means they ar not thrown out of their chosen home and it means that I can leave the evening collection visit to you – you can have the fun of collecting and housing your own bees – no experience necessary. Please return the floor and waterproof lid to me asap so I can reuse it for the next swarm.

Obviously, for this to work your Warré boxes need to be built to the Warré spec. of 300 mm x 300 mm1 internal dimensions or it may not fit the swarm capture floor. A tolerance of c. 15 mm each way is catered for.

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

PS: For those who choose to use a horizontal hive your bees will be collected the same way. You'll just have to accept that your bees will get a second disturbance when you shake or walk them into your hive - sorry.

Footnote 1 - Don't worry if you have built one of YABeeP adapted Warré hives as I also have swarm catching bases/roofs for these.

The less attractive alternatives:

Shaking bees in
(poor bees!)
Walking bees in
(they're still evicted!)

Also see this video of a 'walk in'.....
....and another.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Some more pic's from Saturday's swarm

Simon and Louise have kindly sent me some more images from the swarm/s we had at Saturdays meeting. Here's a selection: