Saturday, 24 February 2007

milk and honey

This morning I would like to extend a warm welcome to the person who arrived here after searching for "milking my boobs". I am sorry that you didn't find what you were looking for; but I hope that these pictures of our beehives will make up for it.

beehives4Well, as you can see, we have four hives. They are two stories high at the moment and as the season goes on, one adds more 'supers' on the top, so that the bees can store more honey. The Queen Bee is confined to the bottom of the hive by a 'queen excluder', so that she can only lay eggs in the bottom bit and we can harvest the excess honey that they produce.

Of the four hives, three are 'ordinary' bees (I'm not sure what kind) and one is a colony of quite rare 'black bees', which are the native variety of the UK. The were originally a swarm that was gathered by The Chap Who The Chap Who We Got Them Off Got Them Off. (If anyone can think of a better way for me to phrase that, then please do feel free to chip in).

TCWTHWWGTOGTO had to retire from beekeeping because of ill health; but he has kept meticulous records of each hive that we have inherited and which we hope to keep up to date. The Chap Who We Got Them Off has only had them for six months, over the winter and has had to get rid of them because his neighbour is freaking out at the idea of beehives a hundred yards away from her house.

The bees are very, very gentle - colonies have different temperaments - and therefore ideal for beginners. B is a bit nervous and is hoping that he can find someone locally to come and spend a couple of hours with him the first time he opens the hives up, to give him moral support and a few hints and tips. It's possible that Ma might be able to come up, which would be great. Our other option is that TCWTHCWWGTOGTO might be able to come and give us some guidance as he doesn't live very far away from us at all. B is going to phone him and have a chat some time soon.

B went to the local beekeeping society's AGM earlier this week and was slightly intimidated by them - about twenty Official Bee Nerds, most of who were in the retired age bracket and who obviously all knew each other really well. They didn't go out of their way to make him feel welcome, which was shame; however, one or two people belonging to the association who we have spoken to on the phone have been very friendly indeed, so I guess it was just luck of the draw about who was at the meeting.

beehives1Beehives need to be laid out so that they are at slightly different angles - otherwise the bees get a bit confused about which hive they live in and you get something called 'drift' from hive to hive, which is a Bad Thing, as bees react very strongly to intruders who are not part of their colony.

You can see from the pictures the angling of the hives. The two farthest away are facing directly away from the camera and the two closest are facing to the left. Facing them in to a fence from four feet away is a good thing, as bees like to fly about fifteen feet about ground level - so if you can make the angle of ascent/descent out of and in to their hive quite steep, they immediately attain cruising height and don't bump in to you as you potter around the garden.

We have put them right at the top of the garden and they have been happily doing their thing for the last few days whenever we've been up there. We think they are far enough away from the rest of the village to not be a nuisance, because they'll have spread out by the time they get down there and be way up high. And there will be lots of tree pollen from the forest for them to feed on.

So there you are. That's where we are at the moment - up until it gets warmer, you just let them toddle along, because you don't open the hives during the winter when it's cold. So the next update will be when it spring arrives.



19 comments:

  1. Someone arrived looking for that? Ooh er, how very strange.

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  2. One would like to think the originator of that search was a new mum searching for advice on expressing milk. However...

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  3. 'However ...' is such a scary word ... :)

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  4. 'However ...' is such a scary word ... :)

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  5. Envy, envy. I so want to keep bees. My Mum lent me her copy of the Ted Hooper bees book and it really fired me up.
    Who knows, you may find yourself searching for that same phrase yourself, one of these days, and then the boob will be on the other foot. Ooops, pardon me.

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  6. Envy, envy. I so want to keep bees. My Mum lent me her copy of the Ted Hooper bees book and it really fired me up.
    Who knows, you may find yourself searching for that same phrase yourself, one of these days, and then the boob will be on the other foot. Ooops, pardon me.

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  7. You two should get T-shirts made that say "offiial Bee Nerds" . I loe it!he part about angling the hives made me think about people coming home after drinking a bit too much and going to the wrong house.

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  8. You two should get T-shirts made that say "offiial Bee Nerds" . I loe it!he part about angling the hives made me think about people coming home after drinking a bit too much and going to the wrong house.

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  9. Keeping bees is a great hobby. Nothing like fresh honey! Shame about the bee nerds being so unwelcoming. You will get stung, but on the bright side bee stings are supposed to help ward off all sorts of ailments! I hope that it is true! bees are quite fiendly really! Honest

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  10. Congratulations on the bees, I am envious, too.

    But, I just spoke to some people about having some of their chickens, so we've made a start! Good things come out of lunchtimes at the pub, I find.

    Star: when our son was a young man about town of aged 18 or so, he went to the pub and accidently fell to the gutter (the worse for wear) when leaving. Someone got him to our street and we were awoken by him shouting 'which house do I live in?'

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  11. Congratulations on the bees, I am envious, too.

    But, I just spoke to some people about having some of their chickens, so we've made a start! Good things come out of lunchtimes at the pub, I find.

    Star: when our son was a young man about town of aged 18 or so, he went to the pub and accidently fell to the gutter (the worse for wear) when leaving. Someone got him to our street and we were awoken by him shouting 'which house do I live in?'

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  12. American bees must not binge-drink as much as British bees do, because the beekeepers I know here situate all their hives in the same direction. ;-)

    Nevertheless, better safe than sorry--when we expand to two hives again, they will be randomly oriented! It looks more interesting, anyway.

    I love bees. Ours have been everywhere lately!

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  13. American bees must not binge-drink as much as British bees do, because the beekeepers I know here situate all their hives in the same direction. ;-)

    Nevertheless, better safe than sorry--when we expand to two hives again, they will be randomly oriented! It looks more interesting, anyway.

    I love bees. Ours have been everywhere lately!

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  14. Ooooh, another bloggy beekeeper, excellent - good luck, hope you enjoy yours as much as we enjoy ours. If you need any advice, drop me an email.

    Just a small point of correction - as Jamie suggests - bees can easily find their own hive, they don't need to be differentially orientated. Bees are very good at number - some people say that you should group them in pairs if you face them the same way, but I know someone who keeps them in rows of about a dozen, sat on old railway sleepers, and never has any problem.

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  15. Ooooh, another bloggy beekeeper, excellent - good luck, hope you enjoy yours as much as we enjoy ours. If you need any advice, drop me an email.

    Just a small point of correction - as Jamie suggests - bees can easily find their own hive, they don't need to be differentially orientated. Bees are very good at number - some people say that you should group them in pairs if you face them the same way, but I know someone who keeps them in rows of about a dozen, sat on old railway sleepers, and never has any problem.

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  16. Am so excited can barely speak! Bee-keeping by proxy!

    And I may well hold you to that trade of bees for pots, you know. :)

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  17. Am so excited can barely speak! Bee-keeping by proxy!

    And I may well hold you to that trade of bees for pots, you know. :)

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  18. Rebecca (sustainable living in rural Ireland)19 March 2007 at 12:42

    So pleased to have found your blog. I am tentatively dipping my toes into the world of bee keeping, I attend a day long course in April. I'm hoping I'm hard enough to go for it and not be put off by, well, bees!

    I can handle our 3 pigs and 5 goats, and my two little girls ... but something about bees makes me uneasy, tho honey is a huge incentive! Also I'm very tempted to do my bit for a beekeepers image (surely we don't have to be retired gentleman to participate?!).

    www.sallygardens.typepad.com

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  19. Rebecca (sustainable living in rural Ireland)19 March 2007 at 12:42

    So pleased to have found your blog. I am tentatively dipping my toes into the world of bee keeping, I attend a day long course in April. I'm hoping I'm hard enough to go for it and not be put off by, well, bees!

    I can handle our 3 pigs and 5 goats, and my two little girls ... but something about bees makes me uneasy, tho honey is a huge incentive! Also I'm very tempted to do my bit for a beekeepers image (surely we don't have to be retired gentleman to participate?!).

    www.sallygardens.typepad.com

    ReplyDelete