April 8th - April 15th
A busy morning, with help from Sarah Davies of the vegetable garden team. We began the week by hanging bait hives around the estate ready as swarm season will start as soon as the temperatures rise.
Firstly, we completed the Zeidler Hive along Withey Way. In Winter 2017 a broken branch exposed a hollow large enough for a colony of bees. A few weeks ago Wojciech, of the Woodland team, sculpted a cover from oak which we strapped over the opening.
Transporting Zeigler kit
We needed to fill in the gaps with clay and branches and leave an entrance baited with old comb and lemongrass oil.
Paula filling more gaps
After filling in the gaps and making it ‘pretty’ we shall now wait to see if a swarm finds it.
Our next bait hive was placed in the same tree that we caught Holly in last year. A smaller ‘WBC’ compatible bait box has been placed here. Christian, from the Maintenance team, designed and made some attachments, making it much easier for us to hang and then remove the bait box once full of bees.
Linda showing Christian's invention
We all learnt a lot about bait box hanging last year, so were able to put lessons learned to the test. The new maintenance team member, David also helped, and was happy working up the ladder.
David hanging the WBC bait box
The next bait boxes were in the Rookery, where we caught Cuppa last year. We also placed one at a new location on an oak tree near the Gore apiary.
We used both WBC and Golden bait boxes. The largest orchard ladder was handy along with our collapsible bee team ladder. Many of the trees need access from two sides, so two ladders and many hands are required during this operation.
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Freda A very happy colony. Seen regularly flying, even in the colder temperatures.
Druid Not seen flying this week, however, we could hear the buzz inside the hive using the stethoscope.
Sylvia Flying well, quieter than recently, perhaps due to the colder weather
Alison Very active during the visit, pollen of all colours coming in. Rapeseed is flowering nearby which is attractive to the bees.
Winfred Like Alison, Winfred was busy making the most of sunshine despite the cold temperatures.
Emily. Flying well and expelling both alive and drone brood. No signs of varroa or deformed wing on the live drones. Perhaps the colder weather has put a strain on the stores, and the drones have been asked to leave?
Holly. A big week for Holly. On checking the hive, Joe noticed that the comb had collapsed to the bottom following the colony being blown over.
Holly's broken comb placed under the skep
This meant that the bees were mainly living around the brood in the broken comb. We decided that now would be an ideal time to move the comb and this colony into a smaller skep on an island named Marl Pit. This move went very smoothly; the bees calm and friendly throughout the whole procedure. These bees will now be left in their new home undisturbed. We shall be able to view them from the bank across the pond.
After half an hour they were all inside
Cuppa. A quick visit in between this week’s other tasks confirmed that these bees are still a strong, active colony.
Oak, flying even in low 8 degree temperatures!
Lime. Not checked this week.