With the kind permission of Denbies Wine Estate, at the end of May we gave our bees new fields to fly in at Denbies vineyard.
Over a week-end, with a hand scythe and a strimmer, docks and six-foot high nettles were cleared and slabs laid on which to place the hives.
The first swarm to take up their new residence collected from a tree in the front garden of a house in Cobham earlier in the day. They were brought up in the late evening and tipped onto a white sheet in front of the hive: they all climbed up into it and settled down to making comb.
Two days later, now an early June evening , Russell had the new experience of travelling from Fetcham with several thousand bees in his car. The boxes were lifted into position at the apiary and the bees quickly orientated themselves in the vineyard, following us about at first, but by the next day they settled down to forage.
The same evening, Graham brought up a small colony in a nucleus box and tipped them in to his hive. Graham is the most experienced of us and the bees seemed to know it, settling in very quickly.
Next was Jackie, who erected a new hive and was delighted when Graham collected another swarm, from Fetcham, which Jackie introduced one evening earlier this week.
We have had several inspection visits and the bees seem really content with their new situation.
It is rather late in the season for the bees to develop enough to give us any honey this year, but we’ll wait and see.
We inspected Julie’s colony today, which was a swarm introduced on June 18th.
Very happily, Julie found the queen and attempted to mark her with white paint. The queen rolled up and played dead for a long time, about five minutes. She was not moving or breathing and Julie was alarmed she had pressed too hard when marking her. The bees were surrounding her, licking her and trying to turn her over, and gradually she started moving again. When she seemed to have recovered Julie placed her back in the hive.
We were delighted to find a queen in Russell’s first colony, a split from a larger one, as two weeks ago it seemed that any new queen that had emerged had died. We found and marked her, at first with so much liquid paint that it splashed around onto other bees. The queen had been laying well, for we had five frames of eggs and larvae and many hatched young bees. Two weeks ago we had introduced two frames of eggs from another colony ( as we thought there was no queen) so we were interested to see now that they had hatched, young bees of a different markings from the original colony.
In Russell’s second colony, we found the queen and noticed the paint marking on the queen of two weeks ago, had been licked off by the bees- possibly as above, the paint was too liquid, so we re-marked her.
All the colonies were much better-tempered now that the thundery weather had passed.