Branch Apiaries

If you are contemplating buying equipment we suggest you try a taster session first at one of our apiaries, to see if you are comfortable handling bees, before making any outlay . We have a number of bee suites and sizes and we would suggest you come dressed in a long sleeved top, trousers [not shorts] and wellingtons. Choose a date that suits you from the list of our forthcoming events listed on our Meetings page.

These are reports of recent meetings at both our apiary sites:

Barrwood Report W/C 30th July
Wed. 1st Aug. Liz & I put clearer boards 3 hives in the hope the bees would clear the honey supers for the meeting on Sat.4th Aug.
We tried to lift the 14 x 12 brood box off the top of Hive 8 but the bees were very aggressive and the weight and height was so great we decided we needed much more muscle power.
Friday 3rd Aug. Bret & I met down at the apiary in the afternoon to put clearer boards on Hive 8 and additionally we moved the brood box [hopefully with the queen] to a new site and assemble an empty box with new frames on the old site for te flying bees to return to.
The plan at the Saturday 4th meeting would then be to find the old queen, hopefully on the new frames and dispatch her and leave them queenless for a few days and then put a frame of eggs from a calmer colony into this new Hive.
Also we would put a frame of eggs in Hive 8’s brood box now with just all the flying bees.

Notes from Sat. 4th Aug.meeting.

Hive no 8 John and Liz had placed clearer boards in the hope that the bees would clear the honey supers. There were still a lot of bees in the supers so no further action was taken..
Hive no 5 again clearer board had been added but there were too many bees in the honey super.
Hive no 6 At the last meeting 21st July Colin Ellis confirmed that there was evidence of a laying queen. The honey super that had ben taken for extraction was returned to the hive to be cleaned up.
Hive no 3 A (the brood box from hive no 3 14×8) John intended to extract the queen and dispatch her. Unfortunately the bees were really aggressive and a retreat was made!
The hive created from this years nuc . Clearer board added to bees to leave the honey super.

All the bees seemed to be particularly aggressive this week so it was not possible to carry out a full inspection of any of the hives.

Expanding Colonies at Barrwood
June 9: At the first June meeting the new queen in a hive that had been split was found and marked in a lovely shade of pink! There was one heavy super with two supers still to be filled. The Nucleus Hive with the old queen was overflowing with bees so we transferred them to a brood box and one super positioned on the same site.
Another of the colonies had a very large number of bees but no signs of an active laying queen. We shook all the bees from the old frames and reversed the brood boxes so that the old frames were now on the top. We then took a frame of eggs from another hive to hopefully re-queen the colony.
Sarah Rapley & John Farrow
June 23: The new queen that had been raised following swarm control, is now heading our strongest colony (Hive 8) with one super full and another couple being filled. The inspection revealed that the queen has room to lay and plenty of space for incoming nectar. We moved a few super frames around to encourage the outer frames to be filled completely. The nucleus containing the old queen from this hive had already been expanded into a full hive and is continuing to grow, and filling the super.
The hive that was requeened earlier in the year has now settled down and the queen is laying well. The other queenless hive that was given eggs at the last meeting now has a large, well-formed capped queen cell, and the few other queen cells were removed. This is how beekeeping should be. The bees doing what we expect and want of them.
Having shaken the bees into the new drawn comb in the 14×12 hive, the colony has rapidly expanded: a lesson in how well queens lay on new wax. We need not have worried that this new wax was filled with honey as the bees had rapidly moved this above the queen excluder to give the queen room to lay. Unfortunately, the old comb that had been put on the top for all the brood to hatch out is now filled with honey. Hopefully placing this above a crown board will encourage the bees to move it back down into the supers.
It will be of interest next year to compare how this colony on its larger brood box compares with the other colonies on nationals.
Cliff Hayward.

Healthy Hives at Barrwood

One of the Barrwood meetings in June photo by Pauline Hayward
As Cliff and Pauline were also there, building frames for the future, an excellent cup of tea or coffee together with biscuits was enjoyed by all. I managed to get home to see most of the second half which resulted in a 2-0 win for England. Shame about the semifinal.
21st July: No more football, so eight newish beekeepers (Clare Norman, Nina Mills, Chris Stewart, Malcolm and Betty Pankhurst,
June Stewart, Jonathan Goodman and David Turner) together with experienced beekeeper Garry Muskett, who I called Gareth all afternoon, turned up. We also had a visit from Peter Hutton whose experience is always welcome. We began with a brief chat about general hygiene in the apiary and then moved on to examine the colonies, specifically looking for the health of the brood and varroa infestation. I had placed boards under three of the colonies on Wednesday and we were all able to see varroa mites on these boards when they were removed. I think the maximum on any board was no more than three, which would indicate a reasonable balance. The rest of the colonies all had excellent brood patterns without any signs of disease. We agreed that the colonies were generally healthy.
As Cliff and Pauline were on holiday I supplied tea and coffee, but forgot the biscuits, the milk and a spoon, but a mug of black coffee was sort of enjoyed by all.
Colin Ellis

Tunbridge Wells Apiary