Today was rather a bitty day. We ambled down to the allotment at lunchtime to feed the chickens. They were all happy to scoff their treats and then ignore us. My husband amused himself in picking up Tommy for a cuddle. Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed.
I showed my husband all my hard work in the shed which he was suitably impressed with. It really has made a big difference having so much stuff out. I have been pondering how I would design a half plot if I got one. If it had a shed on, I could use that as the potting shed and tweak my current shed into an indoor seating area. So many possibilities but it all depends on if anything becomes available.
I found Phil beavering away clearing weeds from the edge of his plot and between the slabs on the path. Apparently the bee check had been postponed until Steve appeared. We decided to go home for lunch and that I would pop back later.
Halfway through lunch, I had a message saying that a friend could drop off a few small logs to fill the remaining space in the stumpery. I dashed down to the allotment and we carried the logs to the plot. Matt was accompanied by his daughter and she asked to see the chickens. We walked around some of the chicken coops so she could see lots of them before they headed off. I legged it back home and finished lunch waiting to hear when the bee check would be.
At half four, I had a message from Steve saying he and Phil would be on site for five o’clock. I grabbed my bee kit and headed down a few minutes early. I put Pop into the nest box and changed her water. She is still eating well and I think she is coping well with Leia especially when Leia walks over Pop. When Steve arrived, I closed up their coop and got suited up.
We made a start on Hive 1 which Phil said the swarm from a couple of days ago came from. There were a couple of hatched queen cells but no sign of a Queen. Hive 2 and 3 were quite big, containing lots of worker brood and eggs. The supers are increasingly full of honey but not enough to collect yet. Unfortunately, it looks like Hive 4 will die out. When we opened it up, the Queen excluder was covered in dead and dying drone bees. Using the bee brush, I cleaned the exclufer whilst Steve and Phil checked the hive. It seems that despite buying in a new queen, there were almost no worker bees, no brood and no eggs. This means the colony will die out in the next couple of weeks. With bee numbers declining rapidly, any loss of a hive is sad.
It was on Hive 5 that things got a little more interesting. Partway through cleaning the tops of the frame which the bees had built comb on, I felt a sharp pain in my hand. Looking down, I saw a sting in my knuckle. Quickly, I walked away from the hive, roving the sting as I went. Phil came over and sprayed my hand with diluted Jeyes fluid. When a bee stings it releases a pheromone which other bees pick up on. You smell like a threat and other bees will continue to sting you in an effort to protect the hive. Using Jeyes fluid or the smoke from the smoker, removes the pheromone quickly. I let Phil and Steve finish off Hive 5 and 6 as I nursed my hand.
Hive 7 was a different kettle of fish. It is a massive colony. Last week it was very feisty and today was no different. When bees get too cramped or have no Queen, they can get quite angry and aggressive. This colony had filled a super so we planned to give them a new one so that we might be able to harvest some honey from the full one. When we got down to the brood box, we discovered it was full of bees. Getting the frames out to check for eggs and brood was difficult as they bees were increasingly agitated. Phil received several stings and beat a hasty retreat when one got into his suit. Steve and I put on a new brood box which should help them chill out for next time. Phil reappeared as we were putting on the supers. Last time he got stung, he had quite a bad reaction so I reminded him to get himself some antihistamines.
Bradley appeared to say hello as we were packing up. We were all set to enjoy a cup of tea in the evening sunshine. The bees from Hive 7 had other ideas. I just about managed to grab my bee kit, close up the shed and put away the sail before legging it to the main gate. There I found Bradley and Steve who had also been chased away. Hopefully they will calm down overnight and be better next week!