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What do I do if a swarm of bees turns up?

If you have a swarm of bees - DON'T PANIC. The first thing to check is if they are honey bees. If they really are honey bees then ring your local beekeepers association. For more details on how to check what you have got and get help see our swarms page.

If you live near to Bridport in Dorset then you can ring us on 01308 423808.

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If you enjoy our stories and ponderings or want to give us feedback or suggestions for the site or our beekeeping escapades you can contact us by Email

Honey Production

All the honey has been spun and is settling in buckets.  It looks like we'll have about 60 lbs of honey. Just need to bottle it now!
Posted by sally on Sunday 01 September 2013 - 14:38:54 |printer friendly

First phase preparation for another move

G3 colony in the Garden is just where we want to build a workshop so it has to be moved. On inspection we found 6 frames of brood and were able to put a frame of stores from the second brood box down into the lower one to replace a frame of foundation. So, we were able to lower the QX in readiness to remove the top brood box when we move the colony. One step at a time!
Posted by sally on Thursday 29 August 2013 - 16:26:53 |printer friendly

Busy few days ahead

We'll have a house-full from tomorrow night, all getting ready for Bridport Open Studios, and tomorrow is the Melplash Show too so I'm looking forward to chatting to lots of people interested in bees.  Then the honey-spinning begins. We're borrowing the Association extractor so will try to have a good weekend's spinning end of next week.
Posted by sally on Wednesday 21 August 2013 - 13:50:01 |printer friendly

No Honey on the Hill

Taking a look in the colony on the Hill today, they seem a little light on stores. I had expected they would have honey to spare but it just depends on the timing really. When the weather turns and the colony is large, they can get through a lot of their stores - well that is what it is for after all. This colony swarmed at the end of May too so they will have taken what stores they could at that point. We're actually concerned we may need to supplement their stores. There is minimal in the brood and although there were two supers, one was quite light and the wet super we added last time, we placed above the crown board to encourage them to clean it up and take down what they can. So, one to watch before Autumn is upon us.
Posted by sally on Sunday 18 August 2013 - 18:59:21 |printer friendly

Green Lane checks

Over at Green Lane today. We didn't interfere with GL1 but did reduce the entrance. Wasps are a real problem this year so we really need to give the bees the best chance to defend their domain.

GL2 has 5 frames brood and a further 5 super frames with a little brood below the honey arch. This colony has some chalk brood. They have a good amount of stores though, especially as we had united with bees from GL5 last time by adding a super. We won't be taking honey from this hive though and plan to leave them with their 2 supers, The entrance is now reduced.

GL4 has 7 frames of brood and we've left them with their half brood but didn't disturb them further by going through it. They have good stores in the supers and we'll leave them with 2 supers for Winter. Once again, we reduced the entrance so all at Green Lane are pretty well-set for Winter.
Posted by sally on Sunday 18 August 2013 - 18:06:56 |printer friendly


There are now two supers underneath our kitchen table waiting for me to find some time to spin honey. The weather has turned again though and heavy rain is falling.  Not sure when we'll get to our remaining colonies. There is certainly honey to be taken from Green Lane and the Garden when we can.
Posted by sally on Sunday 04 August 2013 - 22:25:11 |printer friendly

Queen re-hived

Once we arrived at Sue's apiary we put the nuc to settle beside the space where the hive would go.

The weather is due to change tonight or tomorrow so it was unlikely Sue would be able to return to do much in her apiary for a few days. She was keen to have everything sorted as soon as possible but of course the bees do have their timing and it is always best to work to that.

Once the entrance of the nuc was opened the bees seemed to fly well and were quickly settled.

We decided to check on the bees in the queenless colony and actually did quite a bit of sorting to be sure they could easily be united. By doing so, we freed up the kit Sue needed for her new queen. The frames from our hives are British standard but the spare hive and made-up frames that she had were 14x12.  We were able to free up another box though as her existing colony was on a double brood and diminishing. We made sure the hive was set up with boxes in the reverse order they would be united just to make it easier when it came to uniting.  We then fairly swiftly hived the nuc and added in a few frames of stores from the queenless colony. By this time the bees had been disrupted enough and I was keen to let the queen settle. A QX is in place below the crown board and the bees from the queenless colony can be added above some newspaper. So, when the weather is OK, Sue will return and complete the task.

There were a lot of wasps around and of course they will target a weak colony. Let's hope all is well.
Posted by sally on Saturday 03 August 2013 - 23:18:08 |printer friendly

One of our Queens to the rescue ...

New beekeeper Sue had a queenless colony. We visited her apiary a couple of weekends ago to confirm and had hoped to find a ready solution that day when we went on to our own apiary. Things are never as simple as we hope of course and we found the 'target' queen to be a drone-layer. So, that wasn't going to work. Sue was getting a little worried about her queenless colony and we had another possible solution ...

The weekend forecast was a little mixed but we ended up with quite a nice sunny Saturday. So, I arranged to meet up with Sue and take her over to Green Lane to source a new queen. It meant we both missed the association meeting but at least Sue is a lot happier and tells me that she learnt a lot!

It was quite windy when we got to Green Lane but inside our apiary there is a little protection from the wind and all seemed good although with the clouds moving so fast across the sky, the light was either extremely bright or dark so not the easiest to see into cells.

The plan was to take away the new queen and a retinue from colony three and unite any remaining bees with one of the other colonies. There would be honey to remove too.

We had last inspected that colony 13 days ago and saw the new queen who was on 2 frames of brood. As the colony had swarmed and this new queen had only just got started, they had more space than they needed. She had inherited a double brood and there were 3 supers (one had been a half brood earlier in the season). We knew the top super would be ready to remove so took that off and put it, covered up, outside of the apiary in the hope that the number of bees would reduce and we could easily take it away later.

We then removed the two remaining supers and piled them up behind the hive and the second  brood box we put beside them.

So, into the brood nest now. Luck or skill - not sure - but I spotted the queen on the first frame. The light conditions meant I couldn't really see much in the open cells but as we'd got the queen we put her straight into a nuc box along with two further frames of brood and two additional frames with a little stores. We were then left with 5 frames which were very little used with nothing much on them so, with the queen secure in the nuc box - with the entrance closed and travel screen in place secured with masking tape - and the whole lot stored safely in the back of the car, we set about uniting the second brood box and one super above colony 4. Colony 4 already had a super which the bees had hardly touched so we were able to remove that one. Any further bees we shook into the top and removed hive 3.

So, that just left us the honey to sort. David and I have this down to a tee now so I explained the routine to Sue and we used a spare super in the boot of the car to add in the frames one by one as I brushed off bees and handed each frame to Sue to take to the car. A very full super with lots of lovely honey.

After a little tidying we had the removed hive stored in the corner of the apiary with the redundant brood box inside and had a nuc of bees, super of honey and an empty super in the back of the car.

Then it was over to Sue's apiary ...
Posted by sally on Saturday 03 August 2013 - 22:39:55 |printer friendly

Three stops

It's a little warm in bee suits in this hot weather. The bees seem to love it though!

A quick check on colonies in the garden today. G1 is doing very well. We didn't disturb the nest so don't know if they have extended down to the brood box (the nest comrpised three half brood boxes last week). We could see there was brood right across the top half brood though so left alone. The super was almost capped so we added a wet super above the QX. The top super should be ready to remove next time.

G3, the one we united last week, has 6 frames in the lower brood and 2 in the top one. We saw the queen so were able to move the 2 frames of brood from the top brood down and place a QX above the first brood box. This queen may date back to 2010 (unless we missed one!) so we need to be mindful they may choose to supercede. No signs yet but we left an empty queen cell untouched.

Before heading over to Green Lane we called in briefly to Sue and Kirstine's apiary on the way. Sue was worried her colony was queenless, and indeed it was. Kirstine's hives seem OK but we'll see if we have a small colony to spare to sort Sue's issue. In situations like that it would be great to add a frame of eggs from a nearby hive but the hives are not of the same type in their apiary so it isn't that straightforward.  Hoping we can help ... we'll see.

At Green Lane GL2 is holding its own with 5 frames of brood but is very low on bees with a lot of chalk brood - not surprisingly as there are probably not enough bees to care for the brood. New bees are starting to emerge though so in time it should do well.  We found our new queen in GL5 was a drone layer. Not nice to do but we dispatched the queen and united the colony with GL2, placing brood from GL5 above the brood and below the supers.

Queen seen in GL3, with 2 frames of brood. Lots of stores in the brood though and the queen was looking for space to lay so we moved in a frame of foundation. A little chalk brood in this colony too. The top one of three supers is ready to clear next time. Nice bees though. They could be a possibility for Sue.

Then finally, colony GL4 is on 7 frames of brood plus some in the half brood but they still haven't started on the super
Posted by sally on Sunday 21 July 2013 - 23:21:24 |printer friendly

Weekend rounds

Garden inspections yesterday and we have now seen the queen in G1 - the swarm that arrived end of May. She's slim, pale with a dark tail. We added a brood box below her three half broods last time but although they have started to draw out the foundation, she is not laying in there as yet. The three half broods, however, have 8, 5 and 6 frames of brood from bottom to top. There is a super too, below which we added a QX, which is filling nicely and very nearly capped.

Queen seen in colony 3, too, who is laying across 6 frames of brood.  Colony 2, on the other hand, clearly had a drone layer. There was now no sign of a queen or eggs so we united it with G3, turning that into a double brood.

Then today it was over to Green Lane.

We only planned to remove a super from GL1 but the bees had found their way back into the box in the week they have had the clearer board in place and they had started to strip it out to take down for their own stores. Clearly they would need, once again, to work on the super we had our eyes on, so we removed the clearer board and took away 8 frames of honey, replacing them with ones from a wet super from last year. They are now stored beneath our kitchen table waiting for me to make time to spin some honey.

We inspected GL4. No queen seen but we did see eggs and they have 7 frames of brood. They still haven't started on the super so, once again, we cleaned up the QX to encourage them up.

Then colony 5 we did see the queen - pale - and just started to lay with a few small patches across 3 frames. There were some emergency queen cells though and not really enough laying space so we moved in a frame of foundation. We'll have to see how that one goes.

Posted by sally on Sunday 14 July 2013 - 22:53:57 |printer friendly

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