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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Insulating for winter

After a strangely warm October the temperature finally dropped in November so it was time to put some insulation on the hives. As with every year that just means popping a square of Kingspan between the crownboard and the roof. There's a few different ways to insulate hives including hessian quilts, layers of wood chippings, rags, polystyrene other expanded materials but Kingspan's insulation boards currently seems the most popular going by the forums. It's easy to cut, doesn't need any support and can easy bear the weight of a roof with a brick on it. I already had insulation for three hives but as I've got up to 4 this year I just needed to get another bit for the last hive.

Cutting a 46.5x46.5 square of insulation
Obviously it's not rocket science cutting a bit of insulation to fit the hives, just clamp a straightedge to the insulation and use a very sharp long bladed knife to cut it and you're done. As I'm now using candy boards for emergency food I won't even need to cut a feed hole for fondant.

Toasty warm. The roof will go on top.
I've actually suggested to a couple of Kingspan employees that they consider cutting 46.5 x 46.5cm squares from the damaged boards that the company currently bins off by the skip and sell them to beekeepers. It'd reduce their waste, generate a modest profit from damaged goods as opposed to none and be good for their green credentials -lets face it there's nothing green about disposing of foil covered fibreglass. They could probably even come to a mutually beneficial arrangement with one of the larger beekeeping suppliers to cut and retail it. Perhaps someone at Kingspan will chance upon this post and run with it. :)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Season of the Mouse

For a mouse looking for somewhere to overwinter safe from the cat and chickens that wander my garden the beehives are an excellent place to go. Safe from the elements, dry, heated by a few thousand bees, lots of honey, wax and dead bees to chew on. Perfect. As the weather cools down and bee activity slows mice start to get ideas about overwintering in those inviting looking boxes so the normal response of the beekeeper is to put mouseguards on the hive entrances to keep them out. I think this is normally this is around mid October but this year mid October was still tshirt weather -actually here in Hull 'tshirt weather' just means the snow doesn't come too far over your boots, anyway as the bees still very busy I decided to hang fire till it cooled as the mouseguards slow bees down as they enter and leave the hives and can knock collected pollen from the bees legs too.

In October I decided to make sure the guards old fit the floors, I'd originally made the mouseguards back in 2011 when I had hive floors from two different manufacturers, since then I've bought floors from different sources and they all have slightly different sized entrances so as expected my  guards wouldn't fit them all. There are standard measurements for hive floors so it shouldn't be a problem in theory but in the real world as long as the outer edge of the floor is the 46.5cm square expected of a National hive the rest is a bit variable, probably depending on wood available and the preferences of the carpenter

Hive1 Mouseproofed
One of my original mouseguards fitted Hive2 without a problem, and I was able to saw half a cm from another to make it fit Hive1 but there was nothing for hives 3 and 4. I decided to make a new guard for Hive3which had a wider entrance than any of the other floors. After a quick trip to get wood and aluminium it was outside with with a saw and chisel to make the wooden part then out with the hacksaw and drill to make the metal part.

Drilling holes for bees and nails
One new reduced entrance mouseguard

The Black Bees trying the mouseguard for size in October

As an experiment Hive4 is using an old solid floor picked up at an auction. This has a slightly lower entrance than the others. I didn't have a piece of wood to fit it. I decided to put some mesh over the entrance and see how that goes. The holes are 12mm squares which I've read a small mouse can still get through but some beekeepers report having used for years with no problem. I attached it with a handful of drawing pins and it'll do for now and whilst it looks a bit rough and ready the bees can actually pass through it easier than the holes in the other mouseguards.

Hive4 with it's wire mesh mouseguard
The usual mouseguard is a strip of metal with vertical slots which is pinned to the front of the hive, this would work on Hive4 but some of the other hives I've put porches on the redirect rain from the entrances (not a normal part of the Commercial brood box specification) which would obstruct these. Another approach is to use an entrance reducer with metal nails hammered in at intervals to stop mice squeezing through, although I've read that mice can widen a wooden entrance reducers to get into hives. After making sure I had reducers to fit the hives.

In the end I fitted the guard in late November when the hive activity was reduced. Now it's been a couple of weeks since I've seen any flying bees and today the ponds are frozen over. Next thing on my list of things to do are Oxalic Acid treatment for varroa and I plan to install candyboards again like last year, other than that I'm prettymuch done for the year.

Let it go...

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Award Winning..

Every July the market town of Driffield -Capital of the Wolds no less! has an agricultural show. Driffield Show, possibly not the most imaginative at name but it leaves no room ambiguity, has been running a long time. A little Googling tells me the 2014 show was the 139th show and I found an article about  a tug of war at the 1859 show, so obviously it's been running a lot of years. I actually went to school in the town and recall the kids are allowed the day off to go to it. Given the once a year choice between the show and school I've been a few times myself, a young me may have even scrambled through a hedge once or twice to avoid the entry fee.. It's basically an agricultural show, if you want to look at tractors, combine harvesters, 4x4 school run behemoths and livestock it's the place to be, there's also a beer tent which tends to prove surprisingly popular.

In my teens I actually worked on the show myself a couple of times, once spending a week doing various site maintenance jobs like painting the clubhouse, raking cut grass and pretending to pick up litter, aged 16 I drove a tractor on the site -although I probably wasn't supposed to, and one year I worked on the gate separating attendees from their money.

As well as the agricultural machinery and vehicles there's a few other events at the show include a livestock show, a pet show, some sort of horsey event and, the reason I'm mentioning the show in the blog, Beverley Beekeepers' Association's annual Honey Show. 2014 was their third year of holding the show. There's 14 different categories including extracted honey, honey in combs, candle making, baking, photography and a category for pretty much everything else Display of Hive and/or Honey related items. It's quite a broad category including mead, polish and cut comb. As I had some stock knocking about I submitted a few things to this category. I didn't manage to attend the show myself unfortunately so was unaware of how my entries had gone. Turns out my lip balms came third in the Display category. :)

Lip Balm of Eminence.

I don't know how many entries there were but my balms were exhibit 91 so I figure there were more than three. There was a modest cash prize but really it's all about the prestige :) My lip balm adverts now include the words 'Award Winning' which I'm sure won't hurt sales.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Feeding Time

Every October  the fair rolls into town bringing traffic jams, diesel fumes, dodgy burgers and cold weather. A week later and it rolls away leaving the city with a little more litter, lighter pockets and possibly a lingering stomach ache. The arrival of the fair roughly marks the end of the beekeeping season. The honey crop has been harvested and feeding is more or less finished for most of the country. Looking back over the blog my winter feeding is usually done in October.

We've had a strange September and start to October with unseasonally warm temperatures. The spider population appears to be booming with big fat round spiders all over the place and ladybird larvae months after they should've metamorphosed. This month I spotted a Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar, I'd thought caterpillars were more of a summer thing but according to the Internet these caterpillars don't make a chrysalis till November so whilst it's still warmer than last year perhaps the weather is slowly returning to schedule.

Grey Dagger Moth Caterpillar. Looks like a child coloured it in.
I'm not sure how it got there but I found that garish little critter on my glove, so I'd assume there's a few more of the lurking around the garden. Anyway on to feeding. Last winter I'd put candyboards on the hives in case they needed emergency food. I think it'd worked quite well and the sugar that was left I removed and later used to make syrup. When that was used up I popped out to get some more sugar.

I went to Booker's because they previously gave beekeepers a discount on sugar but that doesn't appear to be the case this year. As they're a wholesaler it's still cheaper than high street supermarkets. Whilst most of the sugar is in the baking section near the barrels of oil and gallon bottles of vinegar the cheapest sugar was tucked away with the tea bags. I think it worked out as just over 69p a kilo in the end. I later saw a post in the forums saying B&M had some at 50p a kilo, but they'll only sell you six bags at a time.

The thick winter syrup is referred to as '2:1 syrup' but that's based on imperial measurements in which it was 2 pounds of sugar to 1 pint of water. The UK's old Imperial measurements are basically a confusing mess of names and numbers with 16 Ounces to a Pound, 14 Pounds to a Stone and 160 Stone to a Ton, and for volume 4 Gills to a Pint, 2 Pints to a Quart, 4 Quarts to a Gallon, 2 Gallons to a Peck, 4 Pecks to a Bushel and 64 Bushels to a Quarter. 2048 Quarts to a Quarter? Confused yet? Surprisingly these old measurements still linger, examples being pound jars, pint glasses and land measured in rods and acres. Under the metric system 2:1 syrup is actually 1KG of sugar to 630ml of water.

Grubs up! It's Syrup. Again.
It takes a long time to dissolve the sugar in so little water, a little heat helps but if you heat it too much and the sugar caramelises it can release toxins damaging to the bees. I tend to give it a few hours to dissolve and only heat it whilst I'm stirring it to avoid that. If you're making a large bath once the liquid is warm it retains heat for quite a while anyway. I think the pan I use is a 19 litre saucepan -that's just over 4 gallons in olde worlde units. Whilst it was warmer I was feeding the bees using Contact Feeders -an upside down bucket with a fine gauze section in the lid bees can suck syrup through. However when it gets colder these can leak so I swapped over to Adam's Feeders on hive 1 and 2 and Rapid Feeders on hives 3 and 4. Both feeders work in the the same way. They have a reservoir of liquid accessed via an island in the middle which has a hole down the centre, a cup type dome placed over the island limits access to the liquid and stops your bees drowning in it.

Full Rapid Feeder, with the lid on.
The bees climb onto the island through the hole in it and drink their way down. Hive4 was able to empty a contact feeder in about 2 days.

Empty Rapid Feeder, 2 days later.

The Adam's Feeders are the essentially the same but far bigger having the same footprint as a Super or Brood Box, they're also made of wood. A solid crown board goes over the feeder then the hive roof. I filmed a short clip of bees taking syrup in an Adam's Feeder on Hive2. The bigger feeder makes things easier for the beekeeper as it means less time having to top it up. On the other hand mould in the feeder can occasionally be a problem which is a bigger pain with a bigger feeder.

Bees taking syrup in an Adam's Feeder

As well as the syrup I'm giving the bees they already had a lot of stored honey in the brood boxes. I'd actually tied bruising the comb to get them to move it up into the Supers for me to extract but they seem to have moved it sideways in the boxes instead. The bees are still quite busy foraging at the moment too.

Busy bees at the entrance to Hive4 on 11/10/14

I'm still not convinced the Queen in in Hive4 has successfully mated, but it's a bit late to be doing invasive hive inspections. I've had a quick look at a couple of frames from the middle of the hive and not seen any eggs, however given the recent temperatures and fact the workers are packing away lots of syrup in there even if she is mated she may not be laying at the moment. The bees seem very placid and they're bringing in pollen which may bode well. All four colonies are looking pretty strong at the moment so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best rather than dequeen them and unite the workers with another colony.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

2014's Tiny Honey Crop

The mean temperature for September from 1981 to 2010 in the UK was 12.8 degrees Celcius, right now we're seeing daytime temperatures of 20 degrees Celcius. This seems to be having an affect on the honey crop. Looking in the supers on the 21st September I could see some capped and uncapped honey but far more cells were empty. Probably wasn't going to be worth extracting such a small crop but having got no honey at all last year I decided to go ahead anyway.

You can see the empty comb tops clearly.
This super has been cleared, the clearer board is still in place.
The bees are still being very busy and I have a suspicion that if I were to leave the supers on till maybe mid October I'd actually manage a decent honey crop, however that would mean starting winter preparation late and seriously reduce my bees' chances of surviving the Winter. So I reluctantly put my clearer boards under the supers and removed them a few hours later.

In preparation for this years' honey crop I'd installed honey gates on two food buckets to make it easy to jar up. It's a doddle to do really, just drill 44mm holes in the buckets leaving enough space below the hole for the retaining nut and screw them together tightly. Some people use caulk to help the seal, I didn't. Before using a bucket you've attached a gate to it's a good idea to test for leaks. You can do that by filling them with water, checking for drips and checking water levels if you want to or you can do what I did which was fill them with water, add food colouring then leave them in the sink for a couple of hours then later checking the sink for coloured water. These two were both fine so I emptied and washed them ready for use.

Lazy way to check leaky seals.
Honey is essentially nectar which the bees have collected and dehydrated. If it's not dehydrated enough it can ferment in the jar. Bees will cap the honey on the comb when it's water content is low enough but uncapped honey may or may not be ready for use. The basic test to see if uncapped honey is ready to be extracted is to give the comb a sharp shake and see if it drips, if it does it contains too much water, if it doesn't it should be fine.

Uncapped Honey, and a little Pollen
The shake test has probably been used by beekeepers for a few thousand years but we're in the 21st Century now so there's a more accurate and sciencey way to check water content. The science gadget to measure water content is a Refractometer. This clever device uses Snell's Law (follow the link if you want baffling by the physics) to measure the refraction of light passing through a sample of liquid and shows the content on a scale. I'm not going to pretend I fully understand how it works myself but you don't really need to be a physicist to use one.

The RHB-90ATC, keeping the old ways alive...
There's a few different Honey Refractometers available, I got an RHB-90ATC which came all the way from China via eBay. There seems to be a few UK based sellers offering the same device now. It came supplied with a calibration stone, calibration oil, a screwdriver (for calibration) and some droppers for the calibration oil. The instructions made no sense to me, I suspect any intelligibility was lost somewhere during translation and looking on the forums it seems this has been a problem for a long time. I looked at how how to calibration oil and stone but couldn't see how to use them and no online documentation helped either, however another beekeeper has posted an excellent video on Youtube called Honey Refractometer Basic Use. cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil has a refractive index of 71-72 according to the video. I checked it with  some extra virgin olive oil I had knocking about and decided it seemed to be already calibrated, unsurprising as it'd never been used before.

Put some honey on the prism
 Using a stick I put some capped honey from the comb onto the Refractometer's prism, closed the cover and took a reading of the moisture content. Thanks to the miracle of smart phones and patience I was able to photograph the reading to show what a refractometer displays.

Refractometer reading for Capped Honey
As you can see the Refractometer has 3 scales, the Baum Scale, Brix Scale and Water Percentage. The Baume Scale (Be') is for measuring the density of liquids denser than distilled water which has a Be' value of 0, I don't really have a use for this as far as I know. The Brix rating measures the sugar contant of a liquid and the water percentage translates that into real terms. As you can see my capped honey was a little below 17% water. Looking how much capped and uncapped honey there was I figured I could probably extract the lot and still have a low enough water content for it to be safe.

Extractor, Sieves and Honey Bucket ready to go
I hauled out the Honey Extractor, set it up on a little table above one of the modified buckets with a double fine mesh sieve in it to remove particles like wax or clumps of pollen and a tray below that to catch stray drips. I'd washed the double sieve and a capping fork in the dish washer before use and cranked up the heating to help make the honey run better.

Two frames in the extractor, honey at the bottom.
Removing the cappings with a fork I placed the frames two at a time in the extractor and turning the handle span them first one way then the other before turning them round and repeating more vigorously then turning them round again to finish the first side -If you spin the first sides too fast the honey on the inside could damage the comb.


It wasn't long before the honey was flowing into the bucket. Unfortunately it wasn't long that the honey was flowing as there was so very little of it. It didn't completely cover the back of the honey gate in the bucket. The dual mesh sieves managed to keep out most wax and other particles but some seems to have made it through and there was a lot of air bubbles in the honey.

I decided to give the bucket a stint in the Honey Warming Cabinet I'd made a couple of years ago and not had chance to use. It's basically an old freezer with a couple of light bulbs for heat, some fans to circulate air and  room thermostat to control the temperature.

Low Tech.
I set it to 21 degrees Celsius and left it running till the next evening. When I removed the bucket it looked a lot clearer, not sure how well the photo shows that, and the bits of wax had risen to the top. I could've actually set it a good 15 degrees warmer but as I've never used it before decided to play it safe.

Ripened honey
As the warmth made the honey less viscous some managed to escape from the honey gate and dripped onto the block of wood in the base of the cabinet. I'll need to bear that in mind next time, perhaps the gate needs to be closed tighter. Whipping out the Refractometer I checked the water content of the honey again.

Water content of extracted honey
As you can see the water content of the extracted honey was higher than when I checked using a sample of capped honey initially, this is because I'd extracted the uncapped honey too which had a higher water content. I make it about 17.5% which is still fine.Next stop was to pop it into jars. There was so little honey I'm not going to bother selling it on but thought I'd use a variety of jars just to see how it looked. The honey gate on the bucket made it so much easier to fill the jars.

Let the bees clean up the honey bucket

They can clean the cappings and stuff too

The honey bucket had some residue stuck to the sides, as you'd expect. so I popped the bucket and the lid into a spare brood bock and sat it above Hive2 for the bees to clean up. I did the same with the plastic box that had the cappings in and the cappings fork on Hive1. Two days later I removed them all picked completely clean.  The wax cappings that were in the tray had also disappeared too.

The tiny crop only filled 7 jars of mixed sizes, so I won't bother selling it this year. Looking on the forums there seems to be a mixed bag of people getting bumper crops and people getting none, still it was a better crop than last year. Looking at why I've not done so well this year I suspect I need to be quicker with the Spring feeding and look at raising Queens so if laying is patchy I can quickly requeen a colony without the delay of raising new royalty.

Friday, 26 September 2014

More Queens Please.

Well in response to the MAQS treatment two of the hives appeared to have dequeened themselves, Hive1 and Hive3. The colony in Hive3 are two collected swarms which I've merged, and I'm pretty sure the larger of the swarms are black bees. The black bees were extremely placid when they were in their nucleus but after uniting with the other bees in Hive3 the whole lot became really aggressive. They'ed just started calming down before I spotted a varroa mite in a photo of Hive2 and decided to treat all three hives for mites using MAQS. Installing the MAQS wasn't a problem but when I went to remove the remnants of the strips a week later they were pretty aggressive. Since then they got worse. I wondered if they were queenless so did a quick inspection a week later. They were pretty horrendous, stinging me in the arms and legs through my clothing. Doesn't take a genius too figure out angry bees, no uncapped brood, no eggs, no sign of the large queen you marked a few weeks ago means you probably have a queenless colony.

I decided to check the other hives too as they'ed also just been treated. All looked fine in Hive2, lots of brood, lots of eggs and I spotted their green marked Queen ambling along the comb -she seems rather brazen about wandering around in plain view. Hive1 was a different story. They were edgy, I couldn't see any eggs brood or queen there either, so I figured they were Queenless too. Bad day for the bees. If it was earlier in the season I'd've transferred a couple of frames with eggs from Hive2 into 1 and 3 for the bees to raise new Queens but so late in the season it'd take a lot of luck for them to get mated, plus there'd be all that waiting for her to develop, emerge, mate and start laying and the eggs to hatch, develop and emerge so I decided to bite the bullet and buy a couple of Queens.

It's really not the season to buy Queens and all the places I looked had sold their 2014 Queens already and were talking about next years' batch. However in my searching (can't imagine how beekeepers managed during days before the Internet) I found a page on Norfolk Honey's website which mentioned possibly having some old Queen bees available so I decided to contact them. It turns out the chap at Norfolk Bees runs a Google group connecting people wanting to buy bees to people who want to sell bees, so he popped an advert up for me and it wasn't long before I had a reply from Northumberland Bees who were able to supply open mated Buckfast Queens and Black Queens. As I've previously mentioned Black bees are pretty xenophobic which makes them a little difficult to requeen especially if the new Queen is a different race of Honey Bee so I ordered a Black Queen for Hive3 and a Buckfast Queen for Hive1. At some point Hive3 will raise their own Queens who'll be open mated and become mongrelised but for now to increase chances of acceptance it was going to need to be a Black Queen. I placed the order on the Thursday and the Queens arrived on the Saturday by recorded delivery.

Pair of Queens, all caged up with attendants and fondant.

They were accompanied by about 10 workers each in yellow cages, both of which were plugged with fondant. They were labelled in the cages themselves and on paper caps attached over the fondant part of the cage. The underside of the cages slides out for you to stock the cages or release the bees. The 10 or so workers in the cage are there to look after the Queen during transit, I'm sure it's no picnic for her travelling across the country in the postal system but at least she's got some attendants to feed and clean her. I put a drop of very weak sugar syrup onto each cage for the bees to feed on as I'd assume they were quite dehydrated after their journey. Before putting the cages into the hives the first job is to get the attendants  out of the cages because the bees in the hive would probably fight with them and damage the Queen.

Queen in a bag.

With a rubber glove in my right hand I held the cage in a plastic food bag which I kept closed around my wrist with my left hand and slowly opened the cage till a worker came out. Once a worker was out I closed the cage, pulled it out of the bag and released the worker. It was slow going and had to be done for each worker. What happened about halfway through each cage was the Queen came out so keeping her in the bag I was able to remove the cage and shake free the remaining workers. Hopefully they'll manage to join one of the existing colonies in my garden. Then I just had to pop the cage back into the bag and get the Queen into it and close it again.

Lonely Queen Bucky

The cage then had to go into the hive. It should've gone in fondant end down between two frames with a toothpick or wire through the tab at the other end. However in the heat of the moment I forgot that and pressed the cages into the comb fondant side up.

Heat of the moment? Really? Yep. Lots of heat. a veritable inferno. In the week it took me to acquire new Queens the aggression of the bees in Hive 3 and 1 had been on the increase. When I was ready to install the cages I wore two pairs of trousers, a fleece under a beekeeping jacket with a veil which in turn was under a beekeeping schmock with another larger veil and on my hands I put thick gardening gloves over my rubber gloves and masking tape over the cuffs and up my forearms.

As soon as I opened Hive3 the bees were bouncing off me and planting stings in my gloves and clothing. Having a handful of angry bees attached to your gloves by their stings whilst trying to fly away feels really unpleasant. I was working fast but did keep wiping them off me and smoking myself to mask any pheromones, although with so many stings stuck in my gear it was probably a wasted effort. Despite my being armoured up and wearing gardening gloves over rubber gloves one bee still managed to plant a sting in my finger.

As soon as I got the new Queen into Hive3 I closed them up and moved on to Hive1. Pulling out a frame in the middle I was a little surprised to find a young unmarked Queen already there. Didn't expect that. She wasn't laying yet though so I decided to pull her out and pop in the new Queen anyway I could be more certain she'd mated well whereas the newbie may have be a bit late for a good mating. I removed her with a Queen Clip then closed the hive up, deciding to leave them Queenless for a couple of hours before adding the new royalty.

Thinking on my feet I decided to start up a new colony using this new Queen. Hive2 was very populous, so much so that I'd left the super on just for the sake of accommodation and they had a lot of brood about to hatch too which would cause congestion in the hive so I removed a couple of frames of brood along with them with some spare frames of honey I already had and put them into a six frame nuc and closed the hive up and the nuc, blocking the nuc entrance with some sponge and opening the mesh floor about a centimetre to allow ventilation -the nuc has vents in the roof too. All the while I was still being attacked by bees from Hive3. I tried walking away but they followed me down the garden. I puffed smoke on myself but they didn't really care. In the end to get them to leave me alone so I could go into the house without a little cloud accompanying me I got a hosepipe, set it to spray, pointed it directly upwards and stood under it. Bees aren't keen on rain. a couple of minutes later, very damp but free of followers I was able to go into the house.

After transferring the young Queen into a spare cage I put my layers and tape back on and wen to put the Queens into Hive1 and the Nuc. Although Hive1 was still on a war footing things were a lot calmer with aggro from Hive3. I inserted the cages and gave the Nuc a small feeder of syrup to occupy the workers.

I opened the nuc entrance three days later and this weekend I checked the hives to see if the Queens had been accepted. Things look good. In Hive1 I could see eggs and very young larvae and removed the empty cage.

Empty cage

In the nuc I saw the Queen herself and again removed the cage. Not certain if she's laying yet but I had seen drones still in the other hives so if she's not yet mated then there may still be time. Hive3 were less aggressive but nonetheless still aggressive I spotted some very youbg brood in the hive so someone's laying eggs in there now. I decided to leave the cage in there for now rather than disrupt the colony any further.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

September insect activity

By now most beekeepers will probably have removed their Supers and be dusting off the honey extractors for this years crop by now but the weather seems to move a little slower over here in Hull. At present the hives are ..well.. hives of activity. One lunchtime last week filmed a few minutes of the activity  outside the hives, holding my phone near the entrance of Hive3

Activity at the Hive entrance on 5th September 2014

Looking back at my records I can see I took in the 2011 crop on 1st September and the the 2012 crop in late September. This year I'll be removing the Supers in late September again. It's not a particularly good crop to be honest. Hive3 with the two united swarms gathered plenty of honey in their brood box but refused to put any of it up into the super. I tried bruising the cappings of the ripe honey to encourage them and they did move the stuff but instead of moving it upwards they moved it sideways so it's actually still in the brood box. Contrary creatures. Hive1 and Hive2 have been using the supers but neither are looking particularly full either and I don't think that's likely to change before I remove them. I've really only left the super on Hive2 as it's housing so many workers at the moment.

I took my phone down to Pearson Park and the Wildlife Garden on Monday , the bees there were still busy too and like mine still have a super on their hive. As I had my phone in my pocket I took a few photos of pollinating insects at work in the park.

Honeybee on a yellow rose

Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)

Honey Bee working flowers on a tall marginal plant
Bumble Bee in a flower

Different Dronefly (Eristalis sp.) on a Coreposis gigantea
In my garden I spotted a couple of Harlequin Ladybird Larvae, these things look like monsters from a bad sci-fi film. But what's unusual is according the UK Ladybird Survey they should've been at this stage in July and developed into Pupae in early August and into adult Ladybirds  by now.

Harlequin Ladybird Larvae.
Still on the predator front I noticed a lot of spiders on my plants at the moment too. One keeps making a web by the hives and catches the odd bee. I tend to brush that aside on a daily basis. I think they're mainly European Garden Spiders.

European Garden Spider
Actually a couple of weeks ago when Hive3 was being particularly boisterous, I'd walked to the other end of the garden and was brushing off angry bees off me I saw a spider looking like a disgusting dark grey gobstopper attached to my arm. Regular readers may have picked up that I'm not massively keep on the eight legged garden dwellers. I may have shouted a rather short word the neighbours probably didn't want their kids hearing as I batted it off. I suspect that it's round shape meant it was carrying eggs.

I also saw the very first wasp of the season buzzing round the hives. It didn't stay still long enough for a photograph though. I'll be expecting a few more to be appearing soon.

Last week on Newland Avenue I also spotted some sort of large wood boring wasp. It was over an inch long and looks pretty horrific -looked worse in flight- but that long pointy bit at the back looking a little like a needle is actually for making holes in wood where she'll lay her eggs and these things don't actually have a sting at all.

Wood Boring Wasp of some kind