Needing to move my bees from the allotment, I sought the help of a friend, Anne, who used to keep bees but gave up years ago but is now tempted to re-start. I had difficulty last evening in preparing the bees for the move as there was ivy growing up the stand and the side of the hive and I spotted an extra entrance in the corner where there was some decay to the brood box. I searched everywhere for duct tape and eventually found a reel of poor quality stuff which seemed not to stand up very well to bee-pressure from within as they soon created a new exit.
I had a couple of car blankets in the back of the car so I fetched them and bound them over the hive with elastic binders, by this time working by torchlight. On my back down the path my portable telephone rang. It was Anne, responding to a message I had left on hers some hours earlier. Luckily she was free in the morning and we agreed to meet at 9am. She still has her bee tunic.
This morning she was there before me. We inspected the hive. There were some bees outside but little activity as the weather was cool. However, as soon as we tried lifting the hive by the straps, the movement agitated them and more appeared. We dropped the hive into the upturned roof and that seemed to have blocked their entrance.
Those that were out became aggressive and I wish I had worn wellies as they stung through my socks. A couple of bees found their way to the inside of my veil and I have no idea how. I squashed them before they could sting me. Gradually, a few paces at a time, Anne and I, sharing the load, moved the hive down the path and into the back of the car. I drove down the track with the back door open so as to lose as many bees as possible.
Most of the flyers had gone by the time we got to the road and so I took my veil off to drive the couple of miles to Frogmore, an organic farm where I have an apiary tucked away in a corner, uncomfortably close to a large badger sett. There was no livestock in the adjoining field this time so I drove across it close to the apiary, then spent some minutes undoing the badger-proof fence and preparing the new site, closer than ideal to the hive already there.
Anne and I again shared the load and we installed it on the stand. I undid the straps, removed the blankets, added a roof, tore back some of the tape at the entrance and we retreated, leaving it until this evening to re-do the fence. I put the bee suit in the washing machine as soon as I got home as it had collected numerous stings and I didn’t want the smell to attract more the next time I wore it.
Having been reminded of the weight of box hives, Anne is now interested in learning about top bar hives and so I shall take her with me when next I go to Sarah’s to introduce her to them.
I shall transfer the bees we moved into a better brood box before too long. From the weight I don’t think they’ll need feeding.