I inspected the hive again yesterday. The bees seemed very agitated and made a great fuss. They run around quite a bit and a big clump fell onto the ground while I was holding a frame. When I checked my gloves later I found 7 or 8 stings. Don’t know why they were so annoyed. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe my gloves had been stung last time and I hadn’t noticed. I’ve washed the gloves now and I’m thinking about buying nitrile gloves to use instead of leather.
So, what progress? Well, the bees have now drawn out some foundation on all but 2 of the 11 frames. I saw honey and brood in 2 of the new frames so that’s progress. I saw a bee about to emerge – it would be great to be able to observe them for longer but I’m always anxious to get them back in the box so they can go about their business of making enough bees to get safely through the winter ahead.
The photo is not the best, but you can see capped brood in the lower left and empty brood cells where bees have emerged. In the top right is an area of lighter coloured capped honey cells.
I’ve inspected the hive 3 times now and have yet to see the queen. I suppose that isn’t too unusual for a beginner.
There are some great videos on Youtube (as well as some rubbish) and I particularly like this one of a very calm beekeeper and his docile bees. Wish mine were as placid. It’s worth watching all the way through to see the way he handles the queen and marks her with a number. No gloves and no stings.
A brood frame fitted with wax foundation
Once the boxes (brood box and supers) are assembled, the next step is to assemble the frames. The frames are where the bees make the wax comb. In order to get them to build the comb so it’s easier for the beekeeper to manage, a sheet of wax foundation is fitted into a frame and the bees then add wax to it to build up their cells. Each frame can hold 5 – 6 lbs of honey so the wax foundation is reinforced with thin wire.
This is a very pleasant job to do, with the lovely smell of beeswax. Just hope I can get some bees soon otherwise the wax dries out and the bees don’t like it.
Assembled bee hive
Have assembled the hive. It has one brood box and a shallower super for honey. Just needs a coat of paint now.
We’re lucky to have Wynne Jones beekeeping supplies nearby so I can just pop in after my welsh lesson to pick up what I need. I’ve started with one brood box and a couple of supers. The brood box is where the queen lives and lays her eggs, tended by the worker bees. As the bees increase in number, they will need more space to store honey so you put on an extra box called a super. This is shallower than the brood box so it won’t get too heavy when full of honey.
As you can see, the hive is supplied as a kit. What could be better – you have the fun of lots of nailing and glueing to do! I could happily assemble bee hives all day. Assembly instructions can be downloaded from Thornes who make the hive but I followed the sequence on this video: