This morning I drove to Sarah’s and transferred the new Top Bar Hive from the back of my car to the back of hers and she drove us on to Buckfast for the DARG meeting. We were a bit thin on the ground and it was known that at least one person had given precedence to being fed by his children, it being Fathers’ Day. The meeting place was the Buckfast apiarist, Claire’s, new office, workshop, honey room, store/den etc, which is not yet complete. Claire described to us how, having used the loo, she found there was no handle on the inside to let herself out again and was marooned for an hour and a half until a monk came and rescued her after Mass.
I brought in the new TBH and, at an opportune moment, showed it off, especially the tray which Sarah will remove and examine each day. We will bring it along to our seminar next month together with the results thus far.
The main topic of the day was Claire’s progress in using predator mites to keep the varroa mites under control. She was able to show us a graph of the mite fall over time of the 5 treated hives compared to the 5 untreated controls. The controls had eventually to be given a dose of ‘Hive Clean’ to reduce their mite load.
We visited the Abbey apiary, which has, nowadays, only about a quarter of the hives that were there in Brother Adam’s day. Claire’s philosophy is to work with the bees rather than against them and so chooses not to overcrowd sites. We opened a few hives and were able to see her method of applying the mites: simply poured into a couple of honey jar lids placed on the top bars of the brood box. The Abbey’s looking very smart as the tower has been cleaned.
Were turned to Claire’s den (I’ve seen smaller village halls!) to conclude the meeting and to partake of scones with local clotted cream and Claire’s comb honey, oh and tea of course. We broke up at about 4.30 and Sarah drove us back to her place.
We unloaded the hive and placed it on the stand that Sarah had constructed from fence posts. It sits a little higher than she had anticipated as the hive’s profile is rectangular rather than semi-circular like the other hives there. The drawer, though, being at the bottom, will be at a convenient height for her. The bees were flying busily from the skep immediately in front of the hive entrance so we kitted ourselves up and transferred the bees from skep to hive. They had drawn a piece of comb about the size of my hand, which Sarah tied with string beneath one of the bars. We placed the blue basket, which had been on top of the skep, above the hive near the entrance and also draped some leafy ash twigs on it as Sarah had used them to shade the skep and the bees would have memorised their appearance. It went well. No bees were squashed, nobody was stung and soon the bees were flying to and from their new home.
We went back to Sarah’s caravan for a cup of tea and, together, produced a ‘mind map’ of what she would do, why and how to record daily the debris dropping through the mesh screen onto the tray. I left the mind map with her and don’t have the details in my head so I hope Sarah, if/when she reads this will comment with fact and opinion, maybe even photos. I took a few pictures today but my camera phone isn’t on speaking terms with the computer so I can’t show you them.