Saturday, 14 October 2017

Road Trip

It's been a really quite varied weekend, with different things each day; it's been rather fun.

Today, we went to the Thorne sale at their Lincolnshire site. We went last year, with the benefit of a van, because we had a large order of equipment to collect. This year, our order was rather smaller, because we aren't expanding as much in the coming 12 months (well, probably), so we only took the car. Still, we managed to fill it really well.

Car full of beehives (© Ian 2017)

There's parts for another five Q-type beehives in there. These are our modification of normal BS National beehives, and allow two brood boxes to be stacked on top of one another, each one split horizontally. That resembles a Q-type house, which is a cluster of four homes, each being a corner-quarter of a square-ish building (we nearly bought one, years and years ago). Anyway: they let us split smaller colonies of bees off main beehives, and 'grow them on' in the smaller box until they're big enough, but it takes less resources (in hive materials), and they stay warmer (as they share a volume), which I reckon makes life easier for them. However, it's designed so that each colony's entrance is the only one on that side of the hive (ie, one is north, one south, etc), which reduces the confusion for the bees, and the number that go home to the wrong place.

We're planning more of these, so the parts for these were the core of the order, along with lots of frames for the bees to build comb in. I also had a few bits and pieces, and then we found a number of bargains on the day. This included some Q-type parts I was planning to order later, but were nicely reduced (they need some minor repairs), and some 'mating' hives. These, you add a small number of adult bees, and a newly emerged queen. She gets looked after while she finishes maturing (after she pupates for eight days, for about four days), and then flies out to mate with (hopefully) a dozen or so drones from the surrounding area (though she has to wait if the weather's poor). After another few days, she starts to lay eggs. That's when you can tell she's 'ready', and can either move her to head up a full or part sized colony, or&emdash;if so inclined—sell her. After that, you can add another newly-emerged queen to the mating hive, and the cycle starts again. We had a number of problems with our queens this year, and so having a plan for a succession of new queens in reserve next year seems sensible.

Mini mating hive (© Ian 2017)

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