It's a sad day.... RIP bees

As predicted, when Nicky and I had a look inside the Beehaus this morning it was vacant. I think I knew it all along but I did have a bit of a weep. I somehow felt responsible for all of them dying. It's a horrible thing to know that thousands of bees died in your care. But as Nicky said, I did everything I could and if there is one thing I learnt from this recent experience is that if your queen is failing or you suspect that she is, act quickly.

Lina and Nicky about to embark on our mini Bee Safari. It was Lina's first time in a bee suit and she did comment that she felt a bit like a spaceman

I guess another good thing that came out of this experience is that we can move the Beehaus to a different location in the garden ready for new bees. Its previous location was was just a bit too shady. Also, we managed to salvage about half a frame of honey which The Learmonths (my Beehaus landlords) could enjoy. 

The first harvesting of  'Learmonth Lawns Honey' 

My Beehaus landlord Ian getting stuck in

I've been feeling pretty glum about my bee situation all afternoon but on a positive, I've learnt so much over this past year about beekeeping and just how much I love it and how fascinating these tiny little creatures are. I need them in my life so I'm just going to have to get some more. The question is  do I spend £120 on a nuc (Lina suggested this could be an early birthday present with friends and family chipping in to buy me a few hundred bees each) or do I put myself on a swarm list. 

The up side of a nuc is that they'll come from a reputable beekeeper and they'll be a small, manageable colony, the down side is that I'll probably not get honey this year as they won't build themselves up in time. The up side of a swarm is that they'll probably be bigger (if they are a prime swarm that is and not a cast) but the down side is that you don't know where they've come from and what temperament they have.

Considering I've had a year's experience I think I'm leaning towards a swarm and as luck would have it, as I was tweeting my bee woes this afternoon @cotswoldsbees tweeted me back saying that he had a swarm move into a swarm trap this afternoon and it's mine if I want it. As I'm away for the next few days on a work trip, the earliest I can get it is Thursday. So, it may just be a few days that the Beehaus lies vacant for. In Ian Learmonth's words when I told him on Facebook - 'Praise Bee!'

Anyway, back to the mini Bee Safari....after the dismal visit to my hive we packed all our beekeeping paraphernalia into the car and drove the short to Nicky's hives, which are kept on a nearby farmer's field. Unfortunately all three of her colonies died over the winter but on Monday she took stock of a new swarm, which we were going to look at for the first time. It was a lovely visit and the swarm seem to be making themselves at home. Here are the pics:

Hives with a view

Before opening we could see that the swarm was very active by the amount of bees going in and out

Nicky removing the queen excluder

The swarm seem to be making themselves at home in Nicky's hive

They are drawing out lots of the foundation

Nicky observing her bees

A close-up of the entrance


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