The Hive

Have bees...will travel.

Our weather alternates between rain and sunny days. The latter means night frosts. Daisies and Dandelions around, also the odd wild orhchid. Mimosa and Gorse around also. Plenty of pollen going in on dry days. Not risk opening hives yet

One hive still has Candy,and I have been feeding syrup to the others. I will keep posting when I have news.

Lucky!!, we have dandilions out for about three weeks now, but we get snow now and then. they come out on nice days, but more for cleansing than anything else.Thez hazelnuts flowered really early and it sort of scared us, but we'll see.
We'll need to do splits too, but we need a specific genetic for the royal jelly queens, so we graft from colleagues in the GPGR. Every candy trip over winter, we ended up with a dead hive or two, I think from wintering just over 220 hives, we have lost quite a few. Not to Varroa, nor starvation, they were just too weak and winter was too up and down. Some hives are full of capped honey, but they just got weaker and weaker and died.

My survivors from last winter but not this, plus big problems with the the Asian 'immigrant' in the autumn, were totally active all through. I had a look last week and whilst the candy is gone, but they'll take that anyway, I see they have been building in the frames and filling them all winter! That is a first for me. There was no gap between the last autumn and first spring blossoms, so I had marigolds (still flowering from last summer), overlap with cowslips in December. This spring has had bumper amounts of everything in bloom. I've never seen primroses as they are this year before, cowslips in profusion in their last month, the first plum trees, peach trees with all the gorse, heather and trees with green flowers. I just hope it continues on through. Our electrician has a lot of hives, so I am going to ask if he has colonies to divide to restock. He was expecting to have surplus queens in January whilst here so in about two weeks when he is here to finish installations I shall pounce. After all the years I have had bees this is the most different one I have ever experienced.

How are everyones' hives sofar?? I went for a loot the day before yesterday when it was nice and came home with 4 empty boxes. Colonies too small or just didn't winter well. The others all seemed ok, and they had mostly finished any candy we had gicen the weaker colonies.

Lavender does well here despite the rain. The soil has a lot of sandy lime in it. The surface drains well and since heather is shallow rooted that survives. Why just said heather, is that where heather makes it lavender should too. I have hundreds of plants with a couple of types of rosemary between. The first year they struggled but year on year cuttings did better. About fourth generation from the first planting I can almost grow it by trimming back and letting cuttings take - which has happened a couple of times. If it is butterfly lavender then that never does as well anyway, the narrow leaved ones are best.

Thanks Brian

I have managed to trace a supplier of robinier faux-acacia, but it has a red flower. Re. heather honey, my other half does not like it. I do plant Lavendar, but have a problem with it. I can grow a broad leaf variety, but the narrow leaf just dies in the wet conditions we have in Feb and March. I do not know the varieties but will try a post a couple of pictures illustrating the two types.

Hi Sandra

Welcome. I can not say more as I can not find your post. Clearly Brian has seen it

Welcome to the Hive Sandra. Beekeeping is a nice slow activity with a couple of burst of activity, the more the more hives you have. So, you will have plenty of time to go over this thread and the other discussions. Look at Alan Andrews' contributions especially since he has started up and a great deal of his experience shown here. Apart from that you will find out quite a lot about varroa, Asian hornets, plants to put down, when to feed and all the rest of it. All at a nice leisurely pace. A large part of keeping for many people is that when we are working our bees we have to be calm, that calmness is itself often a great pleasure and then getting to know these industrious little creatures is an exploration that few people expect. Enjoy.

Yep, if ever we bring our bees to the "accacia", it's sort of a joke to us that it's not "real accacia", lol. The bees love it though.

I'll agree on heather honey, get varieties that flower in different seasons. Lavender, I have loads of it and it is brilliant. I'll be putting down more this spring. I make cutting of lavender and rosemary every autumn, stick them in good compost and put them where it is sheltered from the cold but get the rain. Usually a good 80% hit rate, this year more like 95% so it goes forever. If having rosemary also get different varieties. The ground hugging type flowers soon, whereas my big bushy ones are autumn and often, like this winter, have a few flowers right through.

The other thing to plant as my old keeping 'mentor' said, is honeysuckle. It may not produce great honey but it keeps the bees fed and has a quite long flowering season. A surprise for me here is somebody down the way has two magnolias that flower at different times. Bees are all over them.

Acacias and the famous acacia honey which is highly valued because it is slow to crystallise and low sucrose. Acacia honey is actually from the black locust tree (robinia pseudoacacia), which is also called 'false' Acacia and native to North America. You will find it here as 'robinier faux-acacia' or 'acacia', so look at the genus/species Latin name on the label. Actual acacia does not give anything like the same quality honey. That is all in my bee book, just quoting, I ain't that clever.

I remember someone sent me this not so long ago... as for a personal opinion on which grows best, and which attracts more bees... I really have no idea.

If I was planting for bees, I'd go for lavender and/or heather. Plus, heather honey is just yum.

Thanks Brian

Whenever I look for Acacia on garden center websites, all I get is Mimosa listed, either Semperflora or Delabata. The Semperflora variety flowers all year round. I have planted up a large patch of Rosemary this winter, and have some ground up on which I could plant a number of Acacia trees, but I need to identify the best variety

I know mimosa trees, so I would guess that is what you mean. I don't know of any near me here but thinking back on a couple in England it is a short flowering period although the flowers take ages to actually die back and fall, so probably for short spell feeding. I do remember one thing though, they are invasive and put up a lot of suckers so need to be controlled. I have never come across mimosa honey though...

I have not been around for a while, as life has been hectic. My hives are still populated, but can anyone tell me if Mimosa Semperflora is worth planing for Bees?

We have had four frosts, not heavy but just below zero. The Asian hornets are still on the loose, normally the signs of cold and they are gone. If they are adapting then we are done for. As you say Zoe, traps are no good, zapping a few seems to be personally satisfying but they keep coming. The people who should ought to be doing something and like yesterday.

Hi Brian
We don’t see Qsian hornets up here yet, but it is only a matter of time. Euro hornets are enough hassle. Our bees are faring well wofar, just did a beevital treatment on some of them this week, and the others seem fine. We had a couple of very heavy infestations.
I know a keeper down near noce, qlso thinkong of throwing in the towel because of hornets. I really wonder what sort of solution we can come up with. Trapping wasps is easy, but hornets seem to ignore wasp traps, and the hornet traps attract bees. Maybe freezing them is a way. Admittedly, I burned about seven in one day with a blowtorch, and they can move about quite quickly. Wifey just squashes them into the ground with hive roovee, but I am too scared they will escape and sting.

I am having a hell of a time with Asian hornets this year. I have plenty of traps, both bought and the good old plastic bottle home made ones. Despite what is supposed to be the case, they are getting far more of my bees and far less of the hornets that they are supposed to. I have been standing there with a swatter and have one of the expensive ones that shocks the beasts. However, I cannot stand in front of any of the hives for around 10 hours a day, let alone more than one. The native hornets are also out in numbers, they are doing damage as well but are being chased off or grabbed by the bigger ones.

I have found the direction the Asian hornets are coming from and know they have a nest in a nearby wood, however it is a neglected area and neck deep blackberry, lots of fallen wood and so on. So I cannot locate the colony exactly. Some hunters tried to drive in with their big 4x4 for me but fallen wood makes it difficult. I went to the mairie yesterday, since we are supposed to report them, which they phoned into the district person responsible for this kind of pest control whilst I was there. There are so many of the nests locally, plus other things they urgently have to deal with, so I am unlikely to see them come out. I called a local ex-pro keeper who has quite a few hives as well and she is having a big problem and in an adjoining district also having difficulty getting anybody out. She has actually located four colonies within 2km.

Anyway, I just hope my lot survive and will not actually be unhappy if we have an early frost that will do for the pests. How is everybody else doing? Whilst 'news' on this subject seems quiet at present, the woman I spoke to today, another who does vide greniers I spoke to on Sunday and a local man who does markets are saying it appears to be getting progressively worse.

also, maybe a frame of brood from another hive will have them back in order, they may even manage to make a queen cell from boost the longevity.

yep, splits are good. we only split when a hive is ready to swarm an bursting out of it's box....either split orhoney super...but they're the sort of hives we use in jelly production, so getting them to stay in that mode is best for us, as it's when they will make the most jelly.