The big bee move

It's always a bit of a scary experience moving 20,000 bees in a moving vehicle. But Monday was the day and so my husband I braced ourselves for the big bee move. It was late afternoon and had been raining so the bees were all inside. I blocked up the entrances and strapped the hives tightly. It was a bit of an ordeal getting them into the back of the van through the house. The Omlet Beehaus is bloody heavy especially the side where the bees are. At least I know they have enough honey stores!

After much huffing and puffing (mostly on my part) we got the bees in and then drove the 15 minute journey to their new home. Thankfully when we arrived, the hives hadn't jiggled open and there was a mass of bees to greet us.

This is how we placed them. It's in the bottom of Sonya's garden in a small village in the Warwickshire countryside. The yellow poly hive is empty. It's brand new and the plan is to move the green poly bees into it so that I can clean the green one out and get rid of those slugs that I spotted at my last inspection. I'll then also paint it and use it as a spare hive if needed for swarm control. 

When I opened up the entrances of both hives once they were in place the bees tentatively came out, but as it was late they'd have to do their exploring the next morning. 

I came back the next day at lunchtime to see how they were getting on. Sonya was a bit concerned as she thought they were being quite aggressive flying all over the place. When I went to look it didn't seem like aggression to me, more like trying to orientate themselves. Bees do this by flying in circles above the hive getting a feel for their new location in relation to where the sun is. The plan was to do an inspection but I thought best to leave them and so just put a super on each hive to give them some more space.

That night I phoned a very experienced beekeeper, Mike Townsend, from my local beekeeping branch.  He substantiated what I said as orientation is what the bees are doing. However, he told me that they'd settle down in a week and not to inspect them for at least five days. Eek! I'm a bit worried about swarming to be honest especially in the poly hive as they seem to be expanding rapidly. But hopefully having the super on may prevent swarming until I go in on Saturday.

I came back again at lunchtime on Wednesday to have a another look (I miss having them in my garden). This time they seemed far calmer. Not so much frantic flying. Below are some pics from the visit. 

A busy entrance to the poly hive. 

A closeup. You can't see it but there are lots of bees coming in with pollen. There is an oilseed rape field just about 200 metres away so there are loads of flowers for the bees to get stuck in to. I even saw a few with bright yellow faces and bodies.

The entrance of the Beehaus. 

I opened up the Beehaus to put the super on and saw that the bees and built some brace comb up to where I'd placed the fondant. I had to scrape this off in order to put the queen excluder and super on and when I did, I saw that the queen had been laying. It's a shame that I had to get rid of some larvae (which you can see is bee shaped and quite far along) but the good thing is that I didn't notice any varroa mites, which feed off the larvae. 

There are a few other creatures sharing the garden. These chickens got a slug each yesterday morning when two emerged from the poly hive. (Looking forward to moving the bees into their new hive on saturday).

And a three-legged cat. Not sure what she makes of the bees but she seems pretty relaxed about it. 

As I said before, I miss seeing the bees in my garden and going out with a cup of tea to watch them but I think they're going to be happy here.


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