2 June 2018

An Oasis of Calm Bees

My brother and I both keep bees in home-made hives, but in very different locations. His are in two separate locations, one Warre hive sits at the bottom of his south facing hilltop garden, the others are out on an acre of fairly steep ground that overlooks the beautiful Teign Estuary facing south. The Warre is a tall, multi-layered structure with four oval shaped observation windows on the north face. This week Andrew's Warre had a super top and bottom added making the hive about six feet tall. Already the bees are seen to be making fresh comb.  The other two hives at the outfield are thriving but left relatively undisturbed as they would be in the natural state.
Neither of us is fussed to harvest honey as the motivation for working with bees - the subject is more to do with the variety of tasks we set ourselves; from catching a swarm, to puzzling out the best way to fabricate the bee house. Andrew prefers to secure his hives with guy rope straps fixed with stakes,  I prefer to mount the hive on a wider base, and rely on the weight alone, for it to stay put.
My plan to get a "Bailey Transfer" movement mentioned in a previous post has suddenly been put on hold, due to a secondary swarming from one of the other hives. Yesterday evening I had a shout to say a large swarm had settled in the Willow thicket - come quick. So it was that I came to box them up, after a balancing act on a fence below the branch that was about twelve feet off the ground. They were captured complete with a section of the branch, once it had been pruned down to go into a box.
Conveyed the short distance to the Apiary they were then deposited into the upper hive, still perched on top of a flat top-bar hive. The window between the two hives has been temporarily filled with a folded up towel to prevent squabbling, and today I shall be there  again to see if all is well. The swarm is small and hopefully will combine with the colony below. Sunday dawns warmer than yesterday but his afternoon I learnt the swarm caught yesterday had already absconded so its back to plan "A" ....The hive below is the most active.
Andrew has helped me out a few times but yesterday was out when I called him. He is unsure of his way to my out apiary. Several miles out into a steep sided valley that runs from the Haldon hills down to the sea. High Devon hedges, cross-roads,  blind bends, many potholes and green lane running water, slow progress to a walking pace much of the way.   Once there, it is a hideaway oasis of calm, where even the birdsong is gentle on the ear.
 

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