Beekeeping with Fabindia

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fabindia
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Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

I'll start at the beginning, then over the coming weeks and months try to do regular updates of how things are progressing. I am very much a novice, so bear with me if things don't always work out.

The beekeeping story starts in the Spring when I suggested to my extremely long suffering wife that I would like to get a beehive. Then, bless her, she bought me, as an anniversary present, a beekeeping course down in Gloucester. And so, whilst previously I was dithering a bit about getting bees, it was a case of in for a penny, in for a pound. I bought a hive (£120) a few other essentials, a beekeepers' smock, with veil, smoker, gloves, hive tool, etc. (another £100) then a nucleus of bees (£120, though cheap compared with some I saw advertised) and since I have had to buy frames and foundation (another £50). Still not finished there, as I'll have to buy another hive, though it probably can wait till next year now, as you invariably need two hives. I'll explain as this thread moves on.

You get the picture, it is not cheap to start up, and of course there is no guarantee that we'll actually get any honey, certainly we won't this year.

Tomorrow, I'll write up what's been happening with the hive and colony to date but for now, here's a link to some pictures I posted previously.

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The hive
Came as a flat pack so had to assemble myself, which was pretty straightforward. It is at the cheap end of what you might expect to pay but is made of cedar wood and hence smells lovely :-D

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The bees
Peeking out. I soon found out they are a bit fussy about coming out to foraging. They don't like rain or wind, and stay at home if it is not really warm. A bit like Mrs Fab really :-D

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Bee returning with pollen
When the weather is fine, they really are busy bees. They forage for two main treasures, pollen for protein, which they collect in their pollen baskets on their legs and nectar for carbohydrates, which they collect in their 'honey stomach'
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Linda S
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by Linda S »

Micheal im looking forward to reading about your experiences as a bee keeper and this seperate thread is a great idea )t' Lindaxx
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Mo
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by Mo »

fabindia wrote:......... I'll have to buy another hive, though it probably can wait till next year now, as you invariably need two hives.


I never found out how you could manage without an ever increasing number of hives! I shall follow this thread with nostalgia.
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by Richard »

Fascinating.

It must be so nice to watch.

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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by urbanchicks »

There,s a programme on BBC2 next Tuesday called Hive Alive Chris Packham is the host.

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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

urbanchicks wrote:There,s a programme on BBC2 next Tuesday called Hive Alive Chris Packham is the host.

Maggie

Yes, sounds really interesting. He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really like Chris Packham, he comes across as being truly passionate. I'll be watching.
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

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Adding the supers
Though humans have harvested honey for thousands of years, the development of modern bee hives date back to only the mid 1800s. Prior to that, beekeepers kept bees in basket type hives, skeps, where the great disadvantage was that to get the honey, the colony had to be destroyed. The great change of the 19th century was perfecting keeping bees on much more manageable (by humans that is) 'frames'.

Modern hives consist of to main parts, the 'brood box', where the queen lives, lays her eggs and the young are reared and the 'supers' where the honey stores are laid down. That is not to say that some stores are not kept in the brood box, so that they are immediately on hand for feeding new brood.

Starting off the hive just a few weeks ago, I bought a '5 frame nucleus', that is 5 frames of bees, plus a queen in what is effectively just a small hive. I transferred the 5 frames to my hive, which actually takes 11 frames, so added 3 additional frames either side of the populated ones. In the past few weeks, I have sort of left the bees get on with it, and to make a start at moving into the additional 6 frames.

To get the bees through the winter though, they need to build up their own stores and so this week, I added a 'super' on top of the brood box and added 11 'super' frames. It is getting relatively late in the season, and I am concerned that the colony needs to have plenty of stores laid by for the winter. So, here's hoping for nice of nice weather and happy foraging for the bees.
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The frames are DIY. You buy the timber frames and what is called, 'foundation'. Foundation, which as you can see, is a relatively thin piece of wax already imprinted with shape of what will be honey comb cells.
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An assembled Frame.
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A frame sat in a super. Not exactly as it goes on to the hive as there is a board at the bottom stopping the bees getting up, but you get the idea of the general layout.
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The queen excluder. This is more like the finished set up. The grid below is the queen excluder. The idea being that you want to keep the queen in brood box below laying eggs to become more workers but get the workers to lay down honey in the top box. There is just enough room for workers to get through the grid, but the queen being slightly larger is trapped in the brood box below.
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

It's summertime and the bees are busy. A short video taken this week at my hive.

[youtube]Jq36YwyCBQI[/youtube]
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

Hive alive
Currently on BBC 2. Fascinating stuff, bees are such complex creatures.
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

They're doing well
They're doing well - as far as I can tell.

I inspect the hive once a week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday, but as we are a way this weekend, I did an inspection tonight at about 7:30 pm. The bees are still flying this time of night but things are starting cool after the heat of the day, so the bees are pretty docile, I didn't put on my beekeepers suit, just shirt and trousers and no gloves and still didn't get stung. I have been stung on a few occasions but generally my bees seem fairly easy going.

Last week, I put on the queen excluder (to keep the queen downstairs in the brood box) and added a super; somewhere for the workers to start laying down stores for the winter. The bees didn't seem to venture upstairs much in the first few days but they seem to have got the hang of it now, and they are all over the frames in the super; drawing new honey comb.

Image

Bees on new 'super, frames

Happy that they are starting to be interested in the frames in the super, I then want to have a look at what is happening in the brood box. The picture below is one of the brood box frames full of newly 'capped brood', that is nearly fully developed bee larva in honey comb that has been capped by the workers. In the capped cells the larva pupate to become new worker bees. The capped brood in the following picture is the darker brown cells but note also the white cells top left packed with pollen ready for the workers to feed to the newly developing larva.

Image

Looks like a population explosion is on the way! Nice looking new brood

Finally, I found the queen. She seems to be doing great laying plenty of eggs, the vast majority of which will develop into sterile female workers. A good queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. That's some going.

You can spot the queen in the following picture. She has been marked with a red spot but unfortunately is mostly hidden by one of the workers who constantly attend her. What you can see quite clearly is the developing larva in the cells below her. She is a fantastic queen.

I am starting to find this beekeeping lark is addictive :-D

Image

The queen - long may she continue as a laying machine
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by perchy »

Ooh how interesting, the pics are really good and I can see now how it all works, wow they are so busy, the saying certainly is true, busy bee's.

Would the honey from your hive be good for hay fever sufferers in the locality? I have read alot about taking honey from local hives to help?

How long will it be before you can harvest honey, if that's what you call it, looks fascinating )t'

Is it noisy? when they are so busy?
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by silverback »

Well done Michael, really doing well )t' )t'
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by manda »

This is so interesting Michael...thanks for doing this...they're fascinating aren't they :-D )t'
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by Linda S »

Micheal you have a lovely way of describing your bees behaviour and their lives.
Thankyou for taking the time to do this thread for us to understand a bit about these lovely little creatures :-D Lindaxx
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Honey,Lizzi,Peggy-Mitchel,April,Hope,Faith,Blondie, Sorrel,Scarlet, Penny, Gabby, Rosie, Chick-a-Dee
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Re: Beekeeping with Fabindia

Post by fabindia »

Mo wrote:I never found out how you could manage without an ever increasing number of hives! I shall follow this thread with nostalgia.

I guess that is right, the better you are at this beekeeping business, then the more swarms and hence hives you will need. What you can do is to perform an
artificial swarm into a new hive, putting the old queen is put into a new hive. A new queen is nursed by the worker bees in the old hive, and once you are sure that the new queen has mated and is fertile, you kill the old queen and combine the two colonies using the 'sheet of newspaper technique'. If I ever have to do it, I will explain in more detail.

perchy wrote:Would the honey from your hive be good for hay fever sufferers in the locality? I have read alot about taking honey from local hives to help?

I've heard a lot about that. I suffer from classical 'hay fever', that is an allergy to hay/grass pollen. As grasses are not flowering plants and are wind pollinated, not by pollinating bees, so probably local honey won't do me any good. Many other people, however, are allergic to things like flowering tree pollen, rape seed, etc., where bees do collect pollen, so there could be a benefit from eating local honey.

perchy wrote:How long will it be before you can harvest honey, if that's what you call it, looks fascinating )t'

Certainly not this year. My concern is that they won't even store enough honey, food to see them through the winter, before the end of the flowering season. All isn't lost if they don't, I'll just have to feed them through the winter and then hopefully they can make a good start in the Spring next year and rapidly build up a healthy, productive colony.

perchy wrote:Is it noisy? when they are so busy?

Yes, there is a bit of a buzz when I open the hive. I've had a few stings, but on the whole the colony at the moment is pretty docile and they soon settle down again once I put the hive back together.
Michael
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