Wednesday, 17 June 2009

New Bees & Orientation Flights

I realise that I’ve failed so far to keep this blog up to date on the progress we have made in getting bees for new members.

New Bees
Well, with Dave getting a swarm from Weston yesterday I am happy to report that everyone who built hives either at the first hive workshop or on their own now has bees – that’s 10 new sustainable beekeeping families in the area – let’s give ourselves a pat on the back! This also includes Sarah & I who picked up a nice swarm from Nailsea to add to our tally - they are now happily residing on our garage roof.

We have a couple more making hives this Saturday so I’m guessing that by the end of the following week they will be ready to receive. There are also some from the first tranche who need a second lot, either because of problems with the first (Andrew & Janice’s swarm had a dead queen (!) and Peter and Sue had an unfortunate poisoning issue) or because they have made a second hive – didn’t we say it was infectious?!

We will continue to ensure that fresh swarms are distributed on a first come, first served basis. If you want bees either because you have just joined the club and built your first hive or have added to your apiary then you’ll be added to the list as soon as your hive is ready to receive. Please make sure that it is 100% ready – read the Finishing Touches post to make sure you are ready.

Orientation flights
Those of you with new bees or new to beekeeping may find the following of interest which was an answer given to a member’s query about new bees haphazard flying:

I'm guessing that the bees you were talking about with the indirect flight path were your new girls taking orientation flights. All bees do this either when first emerging from the hive when they are 'awarded their wings' for the first time or when a hive is moved to a brand new location because they have swarmed or we have moved them. When first emerging you'll see them turn around to face the hive as soon as they exit. They then fly apparently hap hazardous circuits around the front of the hive at first then further afield to get their bearings. Experienced bees just fly straight off as soon as they emerge.

Even with an established hive it's worth watching for this behaviour as it shows that you have new flyers emerging, part of the overall picture of a healthy hive. This is all part of the jigsaw of knowledge you gain in beekeeping that helps you check for a healthy hive - you don't need to open a hive to tell what's going on.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

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