I’ve had a busy week attending birthday parties and attending to other people’s bees. First was my friend Pat’s 60th. I keep my top bar hive on her permacultural holding, but she also has several hives of her own, which, judging by the length of untrampled grass around them, she never opens! Pat’s Mother told me she gave a talk on bees in 1940!
A couple of score of us attended her celebratory frolic, each bringing some food and drink to share. Among them was Kit, an environmentalist, who is selling his house to buy an orchard and a bit of additional land on which he wants to keep bees (and also build and environmentally sound dwelling!). He wants me to pop over and advise.
There was another guest, Robert, whom I hadn’t met before, but we worked out that my Father’s first job on leaving school in 1927 was with his Grand or Great-grandfather. He, too, has some land in west Dorset and wants to take up beekeeping. He took a keen interest in my top bar hive and may copy it.
By coincidence, Robert was there again a few days later when Pat called me to see to a swarm sat in one of her apple trees. Also were some relatives by marriage whose first language was Afrikaans and for whom I had to speak slowly and articulate carefully! He stayed safely behind a movie camera while she, clad in some spare kit from the back of my car, came closer and watched me hive them.
On the same day I popped across to the county boundary to see Janie who has an apparently queenless Warre hive. I looked at the queen she had found dead on the doorstep and, from the hairy thorax it appeared not to be the painted one that should have been there. We looked through the Warre, the first time I have seen one open and confirmed the lack of brood. In a nucleus parked nearby, taken for that purpose from my TBH, we found 4 sealed queen cells. Janie will take 2 of them and put them in cell protectors that I lent her with the objective that both will be re-queened.
I had to dash across to the other side of the country for the weekend where a friend’s Mother was celebrating her century. While I was there, there was a swarm call and I shook it into a skep, getting half a dozen stings in the process.
The weather has turned wet. I checked the transparent hive and found 9 dead mites. The colony is dwindling and there are lots of dead bees on the floor. I’m deliberating whether to interfere with nature by feeding or to allow Darwin to have his way with them and learn what I can from a post-mortem.