Yesterday was Bee Day. Mel has written about it and posted some very unflattering photos of us all in bee suits, here, so I won't duplicate her post ... just pop over to confirm in your own mind that I can still do up the bee-suit over the bump :).
It was a very long, very tiring day; but I think that we all came away feeling quite smug that actually, we had managed something that some people had actually told Mel was impossible - moving the hives over such a long distance. She describes the necessary procedure here.
The bees were very good tempered about it all - the single battle wound was proudly displayed by B, who had the most cobbled-together suit of all of us - think pith helmet swathed in VERY old veil that seemed to develop holes as fast as I sewed them up, tucked in to a boiler suit. At one point I felt as if I was married to Mr Benn - B was certainly wishing the shopkeeper would appear and tell him that it was time to go home at the point that he was trying to remove the bee-sting from his adam's apple whilst wearing sweat-filled rubber gloves. He gets the Silver Milk Bottle Top Award For Bee Phobics Who Face Their Fears.
Some of the individual bees did rather less well - we transferred the frames from the WBCs to the Nationals mid-afternoon and then waited until about 8.30PM when the weather had got good and cool, for the laggards to come home. Then we called time, stuffed up the hive entrances with foam, gaffer-taped the stacked boxes of the hives together, put the travelling screens on the top (so plenty of air could get in to the hives to keep them cool), secured the ratchet straps and Tony and B carried them down to the van.
A small cloud of bees who had been outside at the cut-off point followed them down the garden to the van, where the lads summarily executed them, by squashing. It was rather like Canticle For Leibowitz, where the body of the woman with the blueprints is found outside the blast doors of the nuclear shelter. Sad, but necessary for the survival of everyone else. It's stupid to have a weep over BEES for goodness sakes - but I admit to shedding a tear after Mel and Tony had driven off. Blame it on the hormones.
So, things we learned:
- Don't rest Hive No. Two on top of Hive No. One as you swap the frames over - it may cause Bee Wars as the bees will get confused about where they are supposed to be living.
- You can NEVER find the queen in a hive of bees when you are looking for her.
- If you take a super (a box of frames) off a hive and you are working to time, it's probably best to rest it on a sheet or a piece of board, because otherwise when you pick it up again there will be a small heap of bees on the ground who will then have to find their own way home - if you have them on a sheet, you can shake them back in to the hive.
- Mel's friend Tony is GREAT at 'banging' bees off frames and floors.
- You CAN move bees that are in a WBC by transferring them to a National Hive first.