An advert appeared on Freecycle offering a mitre saw. Tools! You can’t have too many tools (it’s a boy thing). Even better, the person lives in my village. I flashed off a ‘yes please’. I must have been first as I soon got a positive response. After a couple of attempts at phone messages we spoke. The lady, Karen, asked if I was the gentleman who keeps bees. I’m not often called a gentleman, but admitted to being a beekeeper.
She came round, bringing the saw. I handed her my poshest bee suit, the one from Buzz Beekeeping Supplies (are you reading this Vanessa?) and told her to climb into it. We went into the back garden where, due to it being on a ley line, (Roger Patterson’s theory) a swarm has recently taken over a stack of old kit awaiting repair. Although it’s lovely when bees appear, as they do most years, neighbours are too close for me to allow them to stay very long.
I had taken a peep at them yesterday to assess the situation. The good news was that the box they were occupying contained frames and that there was stores and brood (none sealed yet as they haven’t been there long enough). The bad news was that the brood box was sat on an Ashforth feeder and they were using it as an eke to extend the comb below the frames.
I found my travelling box and, as I remembered, there was about 3 inches below the standard National deep frame, presumably so it can take 14 x 12 frames also. I didn’t know whether it would be deep enough for the extended comb so I went prepared for reducing it. I was ready to go, even having the smoker lit, when something made me pause, go inside, make coffee and check emails, which is how the opening paragraph of this blog came about.
Karen wants to learn beekeeping and is fascinated by them, having been introduced as a child by an uncle. She also has an allotment, a mini one, and wants a larger one. They are creating new allotments next to mine, where I keep bees. It would be awfully convenient and save a lot of hassle if somebody interested in bees rather than somebody scared of them moved next door!
I went through the bees in the garden, moving them a frame at a time to the travelling box, showing Karen honey, nectar, pollen, larvae and eggs as I did so. The combs were too deep and so I had to break most of them off, which was a pity. All was going well until the travelling box was full and I was rearranging the stack to put it so that the entrance would be where the bees would expect it to be. I found that bees had been going through the feeding slot at the edge of the feeder and were working and storing honey downstairs! Clearly they haven’t read the books!
I blocked off the top and skewed the bottom of the lower box to give them an exit, then stacked the remainder so that it might look familiar from the bees’ point of view. The plan is (plans always go contrary!) to wait until dusk, when all the bees should be inside, and block the entrance. Then (or early in the morning) I shall take it a couple of miles away to Frogmore where my hive was wiped out by badgers.
And Karen want to come and play too! I have a new apprentice!