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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mite Away Quick Strips

During my last hive inspection I took a photo of a Queen bee and spotted a varroa mite on a worker bee in the the shot. The chances of that happening are pretty slim, I'd actually taken a burst of images so I could choose the best one and the mite was only visible in one shot.

Varroa Destructor on a worker bee
As a result I decided to treat the hives for mites. There's a few different treatments beekeepers can use depending on what's happening in the hive. In the winter when there's no sealed brood in the hive a drizzling of oxalic acid solution is applied directly to the bees which does more harm to the mites, however if there's sealed brood in the hive then any mites in the brood are protected from the acid so it wouldn't be any use in August -unless the bees were broodless perhaps. During colony build up or after the honey has been removed I've used Api-Life Var before which is a bar impregnated with thyme oil, menthol and a few other things to treat varroa but at the moment I've still got supers on the hives so that rules that option out. This time I'll be going with a fairly new (to the UK) treatment based on strips of fondant and formic acid in a paper wrapper which acts as a wick. The product comes from Germany and they've called it the Mite Away Quick Strip or MAQS. Unlike other treatments it can be applied whilst supers are on the hives and treatment takes only 7 days unlike API-Life Var which needs repeating. Also this treatment is reported to penetrate brood cappings affecting mites are sealed within developing brood. Sounds pretty good and some may be thinking it could replace all the other mite treatments, however there is a popular school of thought that suggests using a range of treatments on the mites is wise to reduce the chances of mites developing resistance to the same treatments applied repeatedly which I'm inclined to go along with.

MAQS Beehive Strips
You can buy them in packs to treat two or ten hives. I have three hives but two small packs cost not much less than ten so I bought a large pack. They're supplied in a white bucket which I notice is a food grade plastic so I guess a lot of beekeepers will be repurposing them as honey buckets once empty.

Don't breathe in
Inside the bucket the strips are paired and sealed in plastic. A ten dose bucket contains 20 strips as you use 2 per dose. Even though they're in plastic wrappers the bucket is full of formic acid vapour and it's like taking a huge hit of smelling salt when you get that lid off, so I'd suggest not opening it indoors ( I did) and trying not to breathe in.

The instructions for use are printed on the box in pictures. Basically you apply two strips on top of the brood box then if in use pop the queen excluder and super, or second brood box, or second brood box then queen excluder and super on top. The instructions look fairly idiot proof ..but the ingenuity of idiots is often underestimated. The instruction diagram show a hive with the frames aligned at 90 degrees to the hive entrance, this is called 'cold way' probably because of air coming in through the entrance. My hives are oriented with the frames parallel to the entrance or 'warm way' in beekeeping parlance. There's probably good arguments for warm way and cold way orientations but I've opted for warm way because of where I've located my hives and positioned the entrances, I also suspect that whilst it probably mattered more when people used solid wooden hive floors it's probably less important with the open mesh hive floors of today.

MAQS strips placed across the frames

My thinking is the strips need to placed across the frame tops regardless of the orientation of the entrance so vapour is being released into each seam, more so in the middle of the hive and each there is air flow around the strips to distribute the vapour through the hive. If the strips were placed along the frames you'd probably find a strong concentration of vapour under and above them and no or very little vapour reaching the centre of the hive.

Queen Excluder goes over the strips

Over seven days vapour from the evaporating strips fills the hive killing the mites -or 90% of them anyway. With this treatment ventilation is important to distribute the vapour so the manufacturer recommends leaving mesh floors open as opposed to closed with a sliding bottom board. Apparently a test with closed floors showed a 4-5% drop in efficacy. They also not that bees aren't keen on the stuff and it's common for treated colonies to be seen bearding (hanging out of the front of the hive in a mass). After seven days what's left of the strips can be removed and composted. There's some handling instructions for the strips. Basically wear gloves and don't get the stuff it on you. Whilst it does mean a distribution of formic acid throughout the hive the manufacturers point out this is something which occurs naturally in honey in concentrations of up to 2,000 ppm whereas in the hove air the formic acid concentration stays below 100 ppm so it should have no impact on the honey. Now to wait 7 days..

Monday, 11 August 2014

An August Inspection

Well the bees in Hive3 seems to be calming down a bit, they're still far from placid but today they didn't sting me once which is a huge improvement. The Queen is pretty elusive, I've not actually seen her since the day I marked her and with a splot of green paint on her back she should be hard to miss. However she's definitely laying eggs in there now.

Black Bees and Buckfast bees.
Spot the difference.
In the photo above of the bees on the top bars of Hive3 you can see some bees have one, two or three orangey brown bands on their abdomens. The sections of abdomen are actually called tergites and you can also see that some of the bees have only black tergites. Those are, believe it or not, the black bees. As time goes on the proportion of black bees in the hive should increase and as the Buckfasts reach the end of their short summer lifespan. Unfortunately I probably won't have a black bee colony for long because as soon as they raise a new Queen and she goes off to mate she'll mate with drones that re very unlikely to be the same race so it'll be mongrels from then on.

Hive1 had been queenless but I wasn't too worried as I'd spotted a huge Queen Cell in the middle of the comb so knew they were superseding her. During today's inspection I didn't see any eggs or young brood but I did spot her wandering about the comb. I suspect she's recently hatched and may not yet have mated, there's been some very rainy days recently so she may not've been able to make any mating flights so far. Because of that I decided against marking her just yet. Don't want a big blob of paint marking her out for birds after all. The hive was already very populous so despite being briefly queenless so they've been busy working the super. I'd actually given them a second super but they've barely touched that so far.

Plenty of capped brood in Hive2

Hive 2 is pretty full of brood ready to emerge and their Super is busy with already. I think when the current brood emerges they're going to need more space so I'll probably be adding another super very soon.

It's busy in the Super.
The Queen was happy to pose briefly for a picture. She's still the same Queen I found and marked in June and she's laying up the hive very nicely. Think I should've maybe been a bit quicker off the mark this year and made moves to replace the queens earlier rather than waiting for the bees to do it mid season.

The Queen of Hive2 going about her royal business
The more eagle eyed out there may spot something not so good in the above picture. I didn't see it at the time but when I was scaling it down to post on here I spotted a bee with a varroa mite on it's back.

Varroa Destructor on a worker bee, just above centre.
It's currently believed there's some level of varroa in every hive although some people will swear down their hives are mite free it's a little unlikely -unless you happen to be keeping bees in the Pitcairn Islands anyway. However you can't usually see them on the bees themselves unless there's a very heavy varroa load. The usual way to spot them is by putting a sticky board below the colony to catch any mites that fall through the mesh floor or to pull out some drone brood with a capping fork and check them for mites. I went through all the other photos I took today and couldn't see any more varroa but that's not too surprising really as they'll mostly be in with the sealed brood anyway.

Pulling out Drone Brood to check for Varroa
I've ordered some Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) today and when they arrive I'll be treating all three hives just to be safe.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Avenues Open Gardens, 2014

Every year a number of houses in The Avenues area of Hull fling open their gates and invite in all and sundry to peruse their gardens to raise money for a huge range of charities, this year it was Dove House Hospice. A charity providing community care for people with life limiting illnesses. You buy a map of the gardens and the money goes to the charity, some householders were also selling items ranging from plants to cakes through to books and bric a brak. This year the Avenues Open Gardens fell on Sunday the 6th and 13th of July 2014. There's a lot of gardens to see with some being open one of the days and others both. I previously blogged about it in 2012 but seem to have missed last years. This year with a friends small child in tow we only got round about a quarter of the gardens.

This tree sculpture is a tribute to St Cuthbert.
It was carved in 2006.
As well as nice big Victorian houses and fountains The Avenues has a number of adult trees. Unfortunately over the years some of these have died back. From 1999  number were turned into a collection of sculptures. Over the years their numbers have dropped as they've to decayed or been unexpectedly chopped down by the council and the last few are expected to be removed and sold off at some point.

 There's usually a few interesting things to see in the various gardens. I can't recall what was in each garden at the moment but in the first was a rather impressive 18 year old bonsai tree, and a number of brightly colour Coleus. One had a large hole with the legs of a mannequin sticking out from the shrubbery in it. I'd guess it was possibly a pond at some point and jaunty crime scene look which to be honest you just don't see that often.

Old beehive tucked away
It wasn't long before I spotted an old beehive at the side of a garden. It wasn't in use but the lady of the house used to keep bees in the past. I'm not entirely sure what type of hive it is with the lip on the edge of each box. It may be some variation of the William Burroughs Carr Hive with straight instead of sloping sides in which case these would be lifts that go on the outside of the boxes containing the bees, otherwise I suspect once propolised those boxes would be very difficult to separate.

This? It's called um.. Red Flower I think.
Some of the gardens had obviously had a lot of time spent on them by folk who evidently knew what they were doing and what they were planting. The striking red flowering plant above is probably a Crocosmia Lucifer, according to the picture recognition wonders of Google Image Search.

Flock of Metal Birds
The Mushrooms and the Ivy
It's often interesting to see what people use to decorate their gardens and the range included chimney pots, wooden pails, a couple of flocks of metal birds, various ceramics, a huge ancient flag, random bits of metal and wood ware and I'm pretty sure I saw a ships figurehead at one point.

Wildlife pond
There was an abundance of water features ranging from fountainy things and waterfalls to fish ponds and wildlife ponds. Some were tucked away whilst others were focal points. There's certainly a lot of frogs living in the Avenues' gardens.

This one? Pink Flower. Definitely Pink Flower.
I thought this shed was fantastic
There were some unusual constructions in stone, wood and metal including the shed/arbour/summerhouse combination above.

WBC Hive
There's another beekeeper in the avenues and I had a look at his apiary. He's still making hive boxes from reclaimed wood. He also makes his own wax foundation which he said saves him a lot of money. Wax foundation is basically a sheet of wax beekeepers give to bees to kick start the comb building and help control where they build it. Most small scale beekeepers buy it ready made and it needs replacing every few years. He mentioned that two of his five colonies were queenless at the time. One of mine was queenless at the time too so it was good to know that even with over thirty years experience it's not always avoidable. He showed me some wax queen cells he'd made from a wooden mold, basically 4 rounded dowels protruding from a base which are dipped in wax. They looked like bullet casings but apparenty the bees like them. I've used the Jenter system myself which consists of plastic cups and metal tubes to make artifical queen cells and I can imagine the ones made from wax are more readily accepted by the bees. I'm not sure how they work but I'd assume they can be stocked with an egg or grub by a beekeeper or the bees themselves may move a viable egg into the cup if they're in the mood.

The last garden I looked at was home to a couple of recently arrived chickens. I'm not sure what breed they are, Barnvelders possibly, but they were very different to my Hybrids and Calder Ranger. Despite the size when I first looked at the run I actually missed them as their colouration was similar to the soil they were scratching in. One of them spotted my camera phone and posed long enough to get a headshot.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Big Black

Not an entry about Steve Albini's 80's noise metal band -although they're definitely worth a listen. This one's about a big black Queen.

The swarm I collected last month seem to be Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) rather than Buckfast or descendants of Buckfasts. The rule of thumb way to recognise a black bee is, somewhat unsurprisingly, by it's colour -black or very dark brown. They do have browny orange fur but there should be no orangey brown sections of abdomen. There's also various measurements of body parts size, hair length etc to be taken into account if you want to be certain. There's a comprehensive article on how to identify black bees here.

I managed to locate the Queen and mark her with green paint (for 2014). She looks long and thin in comparison to the Queens in my other hives although part of that could be to do with having been slimmed down prior to swarming.

Black Queen with attendant worker, notice the black abdomen on both

You can see her slender abdomen shape
After I collected this swarm and along with another colony I'd made I found myself with 5 colonies which is realistically too many for my garden so I had to unite some colonies to get myself back down to three. I had to unite the swarm of black bees with Hive3 which contained the swarm I'd caught last year, I suspect they were probably Buckfasts originally. Black Bees have a reputation for not accepting other bees amongst their numbers and I can honestly say that at present this mixed race colony is seriously bad tempered. Whilst they were in the 6 frame nuc they were actually very placid but now they're sharing a hive with the Buckfasts the colony is very aggressive during inspections and I've had to walk away a few times already. On the first inspection after uniting them they put a good 6 stings into the wrist of my jacket within a few seconds of opening the hive. I had removed the Buckfast Queen from the other bees before uniting and I'm currently hoping that with time as the Buckfast workers die back they'll be replaced by Black Bees and the colony will revert to it's previously placid temprament. I united them on 3rd July and both sets of bee had eggs. With 3 weeks to emerge and a summer bee lifespan of 6 weeks I'm looking at early September by the time that happens. There was actually a break in egg laying after uniting to colonies but someone in there is laying a lot of eggs again so I'm hoping the original mated black Queen is still in there so I can see how they are to work with in comparison to my other colonies.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Back to school, a second swarm.

Last Friday I got a call from the swarm coordinator at Beverley Beekeepers Association about a honeybee swarm on Ella Street, about a quarter mile from where I live, unfortunately I was working so missed it. Turned out they would've been a bit hard to reach being six metres up a tree anyway. Then on Saturday I got another call about another swarm, this time on Greenwood Avenue. But I was out at Yorkshire Sculpture Park looking at some pretty amazing woodwork by Ursula von Rydingsvard, so once again I was unable to go look. Then on Wednesday I got a call about another bee swarm at a local school which I was free to go collect. That's three calls about bee swarms in Hull over six days, the coordinator had also been dealing with swarms in other areas too.

Rydingsvard's handiwork at YSP
The swarm were on a tree at Winifred Holtby Academy, a modern school over on the east side of the city. It's a rather nice campus, attractive outside and in. I don't know why Hull doesn't make more of it but we have some really impressive modern architecture in the city -there's certainly more than The Deep over here. Anyway after a couple of phone calls I dug out a 6 frame nucleus I'd built last August (and forgot to blog about) along with two frames of drawn comb and four of foundation. I grabbed the usual tools, smoker, metal bucket, gloves, boots and smock and my trusty Teflon coated saw -it's a bit old but not too long in the tooth. Saw, tooth. See what I did there?

Following the instructions of my satnav I arrived at the school and spotted (well okay couldn't miss) an area of immaculate lawn with a number of saplings on it that'd been cordoned off with cones and red and tape. There was a dark mass near the top of the middlemost tree which I guessed had to be the bees. I wandered into the school spoke to a couple girls on reception, one asked what I was going to do with the bees. I told her I was going to pop them in a box, take them home and keep them in my garden, at first she thought I was joking. :)

I'd guess the tree was about 5 metres tall, possibly the tallest of the set but not by much. One of the caretakers helpfully lent me some steps which I put near the tree so I was able to reach the bottom of the cluster. It was actually a very big cluster I suspect if I'd brought a 5 frame nuc it would've been a tight fit and with the 6 frame nuc they'll be a little congested. When the swarm was flying it must've been quite a sight.

It's one big cluster..
I needed to cut the branch to remove the bees but didn't want to take off any unnecessary tree and even on the ladder I could just reach the bees. If I was to just cut the branch below them the cluster would fall onto me or to the ground and I'd have to wait for the cluster to reform -neither were winning scenarios, especially with a little audience.. But with a plan in mind cut through the wood I did. It was bit slow going as I didn't want to shake off too many bees whilst sawing. Some bees fell from the cluster and I was able to gather them onto a frame of empty comb and place them in the Nuc. I figured they'ed probably start nosanoving and attract any fliers.

I cut almost but not quite through the branch so it hung downwards from the uncut edge. Holding the bit with the bees on in one hand I used a sharp coping saw, also loaned by the caretaker, to cut through the rest and carried the branch and the bees down. At this point some bees took flight, regrouping on other branches, but the majority stayed in the together. The important bit was to not lose the queen who should be somewhere in the middle of the mass. Holding the bee covered branch above the nucleus I gave it a sharp jolt downwards causing the bees to fall to the Nuc floor, filling it a couple of inches deep. At this point they got pretty noisy but there wasn't any mass exodus from the open box. None of the videos I've seen of people catching swarms manage to do the noise justice, it's something you
really need to experience first hand.

I picked up the rest of the frames and dropped them in place not pressing them down as they were sitting on a cushion of bees. It didn't take long for the bees to move between the frames or out of the entrance allowing them to be settled into position and the crownboard placed above. The crownboard had a round feeding hole in the middle and the  bees nosanoving on top of it with their heads to the hole formed a circular pattern around it.

Budge up!
At the front of the hive there was a large number of bees who I guess had come out of the entrance shortly after being shaken in as well as flying bees who'd landed there. There was plenty of nosanoving going on there too which was just as well because a cadre of bees had returned to form their own small cluster up in the tree. To move them out I used a combination of smoking, brushing and gave the tree top a few good shakes to dislodge them, repeating the process a few times as they returned in smaller numbers. I used the same process to get bees off the steps too and gave the tree top a thorough smoking to mask any pheromones left on the wood. If this had been in a garden I'd've headed off at this point and returned few hours later when the bees were all inside but being a school building with people coming and going for various sporting activities that wasn't really a good plan so I spent a couple of hours with a rather nice coffee talking to the also rather pleasant girls on the reception before finally blocking the entrance with some sponge, taping it secure and making the slow drive home.

Spot the new one...
There was no room on the hivestand for this colony so I knocked up a temporary stand using left over breeze blocks and placed the Nuc on that. Whilst I have the space for a few more colonies I don't think it's very practical to have more than three given my urban location so at some point I'll be uniting a few colonies to get myself back down to three.

Mystical Stone of Orientation
I gather swarmed bees should automatically reorient themselves with their new surroundings after being hived but didn't want to take any chances -and it's not like bees haven't been known to do the exact opposite to what's expected. So I placed a small stone outside the hive entrance, not blocking it but certainly noticeable to the bees as they came out. This is a trick I picked up from the forums and should make them take note of the location of their hive entrance and prevent them trying to return to their old site.

The next day there were noticeably more bees flying in the garden particularly near the 6 frame nuc. I guess the new bees were taking orientation flights. Being a swarm they're probably all mature bees anyway unlike a regular colony where only about ten percent of the bees are going to be flying, plus in an established colony the flying bees will be going away to forage and returning straight to the hive rather than milling about outside so you'd probably see fewer at any one time anyway.

This weekend I'll hopefully have a look in the hive, see if the Queen is marked or not. I've got no idea where they came from but going by the size of the swarm they must be from a pretty healthy colony. Going to have to make some decisions about which Queens to keep when I start uniting colonies very soon.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

More Boxes..

To manage swarming beekeepers need to have enough brood boxes for twice as many hives as they have. After starting with two brood boxes picked up on eBay I later made two more giving me enough for both colonies. I later moved the swarm I'd collected in July last year into one of the brood boxes giving me three full size colonies, meaning I now needed 6 brood boxes. A commercial brood box costs £40-£50 apiece and I didn't have quite that  much change down the side of the sofa so I decided to make my own again.

It was a lot of hard work last time using a couple of handsaws, a plane and a hive stand stabilised with breeze blocks as a work surface. This time I figured with a workbench available things should be a lot easier. A table saw would probably help too but they're a bit pricey. I recently got a couple of Argos vouchers for making a load of money suggestions at work - things like print on both sides of the paper, yeah, not exactly rocket science is it. There wasn't enough for a table saw but there was enough to cover the cheapest circular saw in the shop and a bit of hardware. So armed with a Challenge 160mm Circular Saw, some screws, a couple of clamps and some wood I made a saw top to go on the workbench.

Contains small parts, young children may require some supervision.

It's a pretty easy thing to make really, and there's plenty of articles on the Internet telling you how to turn a perfectly safe circular saw into a far from safe tablesaw if you feel the urge. I made mine so that the cut depth can be altered by turning a couple of screws. The gate is just a straight piece of wood held in place by G-clamps. Underneath is some bracing to hold the saw in place, stop the tabletop from warping and to secure it within the workbench. The top itself is a piece of MDF glued to some hardboard that spend a year under the chickens. Using the saw I routed channels for a crosscut sledge but I've not got around to making that yet. One thing to remember with this is when positioning the gate it needs to be done relative to the blade rather than the table edge just in case the blade is a couple of degrees out. At the moment it has the on switch cable tied in place so when it's plugged in it keeps going. At some point I may add a foot operated deadman's switch in a nod towards safety. BTW if this inspires you to make one and you lose a finger or five I take no responsibility -just because some random posts something on the internet doesn't mean you should follow.

Looks a bit Flintstones
As before making the sides of the brood box required joining two pieces of wood together. Previously I'd used a plane to cut the rebates where the pieces would overlap to give me sides the right height but with the new toy it was just a matter of making two cuts on each piece. If you're trying this at home remember to use push sticks - you don't want your fingers near that spinning blade. I'd originally attached a splitter to the table top, that's a piece of metal that goes behind the blade to stop cut wood trying to close around the blade. It didn't work though so I removed it. This meant that the wooden offcuts were occasionally caught by the blade and hurled across the garden. Unexpected and impressive, but a little inconvenient.

I made one brood box using wood from my local B&Q and the other using wood from my local woodshop. Pros and cons are at B&Q when the label says 22mm it means 22mm but it costs more and the wood and is warped whereas the independent woodshop uses those 'nominal' measurements were 25mm means 22mm but the wood is flat and cheaper. So obviously it's worth grabbing a tape measure and trying a smaller supplier.

It's Hip to be Square.
I picked up enough wood and tanalised screws to make one broodbox for just under £12 from the woodshop. The rebate for the frame lugs I made using the plane -I could've done them faster with the saw but truth is I forgot about them till after I'd lugged the saw back inside and I didn't feel like hauling it out again.

Commercial frames are meant to have rebated had holds on two sides. This means they can be stacked together which is useful for commercial operations who need to move large numbers of hives about on flatbeds. I'm unlikely to ever need that facility so I just attach my handholds on the outside of the boxes, I also add a couple of smaller handholds to the other two sides to making the boxes easier to manoeuvre. They need to bear a lot of weight so need to be attached very securely.

Think I'm getting better at those corner jointy bits.
Then it was just a case of knocking together some deep commercial frames and the boxes were good to go.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Stand Revisisted

Well this year I seem to be have been having a bit of a problem with chalkbrood - well not so much myself as the bees really. I've been swapping out hive floors to remove dead brood, treating the bees and comb with Beevital Mycostop and worker numbers have been rising so they appear to be on top of it now but I'm still seeing a couple of infected brood in hives 2 and 3. Having done some reading up on the topic current thinking suggests it's related to poor ventilation in the hives. All three hives have mesh floors but they're standing on wood supported by large breezeblocks, and in the case of Hive3 they're directly on the blocks. I'd put those blocks in place last summer and I'm starting to suspect that perhaps they're restricting ventilation too much and also they may be keeping detritus falling through the mesh too close to the hives.

Heavy blocks, possibly reducing ventilation under the hives.

So after work on Friday I made a trip to B&Q to get a new hive stand. There's a few different ways to make a hive stand. Some people use a wooden pallet on the ground, some use purpose built wooden platforms, but I favour breezeblocks. In nature honey bees don't nest close to the ground, current stands are generally designed with the beekeeper being able to access the hive in mind. Making a wooden stand would have let me position the hives at the exact height I chose I decided it's take a like too long to do as I was wanting to improve ventilation asap so I went with blocks again. Smaller ones though.

Well that was an exciting shopping trip.
Mine were originally one block from the ground and I put in the wider blocks when I decided to raise the hives a little to make them easier to work. Wider blocks seemed a good idea at the time to make the stand more stable. I'd also only had 2 hives and a nucleus whereas I've currently got 3 hives so I wanted to alter it at some point to support all three on the same platform. There's some wisdom to having each hive on a seperate stands, so vibrations from inspecting one hive don't affect the others, but given the location of my hives this wasn't really feasible.

The supporting structure was designed by a chicken.
Wanting to maximise airflow but also create a stable platform I decided to arrange the hives so there was supporting blocks for each side of each hive. For three hives that meant four columns of blocks. A vertical stack of breezeblocks would probably fall over in a light breeze so I put some treated wood between the blocks and the hives, my theory was that the weight of the hives spread across and pressing down on the blocks would keep things stable as well as increasing ventilation. I'd dipped the cut ends of the wood in end grain preserver to give them a slightly longer life.

The grass needs a mow. Feel free if your passing.
Waiting till the temperature dropped below 10 degrees Celsius and the bees weren't flying, but it was still light enough to see I donned a weightlifting belt, a bee smock, wellies and gloves. First order of the day was to get the hives off the stand. They were heavy. Removing the roofs I used correx sheets over the crownboard feed holes and moved the hives out of the way. Hive3 was just a brood box so that wasn't a problem, Hive2 had a super on it but I managed to move the floor, brood box and super without having to separate them -I was hoping to caused minimum disruption to the bees. Hive1 still had a second brood box from the artificial swarm on top as well as a super. There was no way I was going to move that lot in one go. I moved the Demaree onto the crownboard above Hive2, slapped another crownboard on that then did the same with the super. I put another crownboard on top of the Queen Excluder on the bottom brood box and moved that away too. To reduce my chances of getting stung and possibly dropping a breezeblock on my foot I'd turned the moved hives so the entrances pointed away from me. Well nobody really likes being watched whilst they work.


When I'd put the blocks in last year I'd had a glamorous assistant to help and there were no supers and one of the hives was actually an empty nuc, but this time with more to move it was to be a solo endeavour. It took about half an hour from start to finish. I used three crownboards to get the spacing right between the columns -you can never have enough crownboards. The finished stand seems pretty stable and as well as allowing more ventilation I can clear away anything building up under the hives easily and look under the hives with my mirror-on-a-stick.

I could make a fort with those!
The old blocks are now sat waiting for a friend with a van to come pick them up so she can use them in her vegetable garden. I'm sure I was an inch shorter after all that lifting. Hopefully this will be the final time I have to remake the hive stand.