Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Lows & Highs of Beekeeping

The Lows
Despite the good start early in the year, the second winter from early March to May, saw the bees cluster around their new brood and away from their remaining food stores. This resulted in isolation starvation in both hives.

The Highs
With no bees, I've put out 9 bait hives around my locality. June 3rd, came home from dog walking at around 11.00am. While chatting to a neighbour was interrupted by a roar. YES! a swarm moving into a bait hive at home!
An amazing experience to watch the bees gradually settle on the hive and walk in.

Swarm Arriving

...and settling

Within 15 minutes they were almost all clustered around the hive entrance and were rapidly moving into the hive.

A week later the bait hive was moved to the apiary. A few day later I moved the new combs into the hive. Nine beautiful new white combs full of brood at all stages, with plenty of drones, and nectar and capped honey. Some combs were crossing to more than one top-bar. I'll straighten them at the next check, after they've settled in.

 Crossed Comb, but beautiful!

 Brood and Honey

And it wasn't very long before there was enthusiastic fanning at the hive entrance with bees coming and going with pollen and nectar.


  1. Lovely. I am a novice with my first year top bar hive and I discovered crossed comb a week after my swarm had moved in. I'd read somewhere to fix this sooner rather than later, so I tried, but needless to say the wax was too delicate and the combs failed. Should I have waited? What is your technique for straightening them? Thanks and good luck.

  2. Best done when the comb is fairly new, but not completely white. Mine will be about 2 or 3 weeks old when I go in again. Cut the comb next to the top-bar with a knife, push to straighten and pinch the comb onto the bar. Don't try to do more that 25 - 30% if the comb width at a time or it can all fail. It's best done when combs are light. Don't feed the bees for at least a week after the straightening. They have a habit of storing the syrup in the weak comb, which will collapse. Hope that helps!