Except that it was rainy Thursday! It rained all day and the forecast indicated no let up so I finally decided not to make the two and a half hour round trip to Kenwood and potentially find nobody with a key was there, or end up standing in the shed looking at damp hives. I sent a message to Malcolm to say I would inspect my hive on Sunday. However, I received an e-mail from lovely Connie to say that she had looked at Hive 1 and all is well. Hope she didn't have to do inspection with umbrella in hand, or maybe the sun shone on Hampstead. It never shone on Hackney!!
Sunday, a rainy start but I went to the apiary as the forecast was OK. What an interesting contrast between the apiary hives and my very busy hive at home. Hive 1 had a few bees going in and out. A varroa board had been put in on Thursday and on inspection showed a mite drop of 2 which is OK. There was brood and generally everything looked like the colony is developing. I did not see the queen but as she was seen 3 days ago I decided not to go through the frames again - I think you can overdo disturbing them. I will look again on Thursday.
Not a great week weather-wise for people, or bees but the workers have been out and about. One of them probably should not have been as she ended up as spider lunch!
Saturday, the supers are filling up well. I did an inventory and the first super has capped honey in 7 frames but the two end ones were merely drawn with a little nectar and the bees had moved into the other supers. I shifted the empty frames into the middle and the full ones to the outside. We will see if the bees now fill them or not. On looking at the newest super there were dead bees squashed on top - all my fault I had not checked when I constructed the new super that the side rails were low enough. As I glued and nailed them this is going to take some carpentry to fix so best answer is to buy my second hive, make up another super quickly and swap it with the wonky one. I feel bad about the mortality and I won't make the same mistake again. After that discovery the amount of honey stores mattered less, but there is plenty of nectar in super 2 and wax is being drawn in super 3 which suggests there will be sufficient for bees to overwinter and some spare for me.
I decided to finally examine the 'sacrificial' drone brood which is part of my varroa plan. I stuck the uncapping tool into the capped brood and attempted to hook out the drone larvae for inspection. I achieved a squishy mess and one visible varroa. This murderous action wound the bees up as well so the result was agitated bees and an inconclusive cull. I need to get better at hooking them out - but it is not my favourite task.
As I had left my 'bee-proof' trousers at the studio I wore the ones I had on for the inspection and did not tie up the ankles. Part way through the inspection I felt something crawling up my leg, or did I? Yes, I did so quickly and calmly I stood in the middle of the lawn and removed my trousers. Not sure what any nosey neighbours made of an 'astronaut jumping up and down in her knickers' but at least I did not get stung and one bee life was saved.
All in all bees 5/ Amanda 1 this week. I have been getting a bit casual so need to sharpen up.
Other bee-related activity
I highly recommend 'Travels in Blood and Honey' by Elizabeth Gowing. She tells the story of how beekeeping became part of her life when she and her husband moved from north London to live in Kosovo. The human stories woven into her bee-related activities reveal much about the nature of war, the cultural oppression of women and the human spirit. Elizabeth also details traditional recipes using honey along with the context of how she came across them. My honey is too precious to cook with but perhaps I may experiment with some Sainsbury's 'Product of UK and other Countries'.
Seeing large numbers of bumble bees on the blue globe thistles and yellow Welsh poppies in the garden reminds me that I need to send information to www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk which is organised by Friends of the Earth, B&Q and Buglife. The more information we can all provide about bees the better so do join in. I also need to get myself organised and do the National Plant Monitoring Scheme again - my OS grid area includes London Fields where Hackney Council have planted a wild-flower meadow, so when the sun comes out again I will be out with my clip-board. This provides important data so do get involved www.plantlife.org.uk
It takes 3 million flowers to make a jar of honey (well depends on the nectar and the flower and the size of the jar but it is a powerful image)
Also bee trivia No 1 should have been 'it takes 12 bees a lifetime to make a teaspoon of honey'. I should have double checked my sources - as I said, getting a bit casual Must do better!