Moving a hive

Picture courtesy of Stuart Cummins

We moved some horizontal Top Bar Hives today, partly because they were a bit visible from the road and there has been an increase in vandalism in this neighbourhood.

There is a well known adage that you must move a hive “less then 3 feet or more than 3 miles or the bees will be unable to find it on returning”. But we moved these hives about 80 metres and used a trick to force the bees to re-orient when they exit: there is a maze of branches in front of the entrances (see picture). The bees can no longer zoom straight out without noticing the hive has moved, they are forced to stop and think! Continue reading

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ONBG meeting, 16th Nov 2017 – insulation, honey and mites

On a winter’s evening a dozen folk gathered at the Victoria Arms in Oxford to discuss, you guessed it, bees and beekeeping.

Jack had brought along the heat-vision FLIR camera he used to photograph his hives’ heat profile in a previous post. Brian and I have borrowed it to see where our hives, which are different styles, lose heat during winter – more on that in a future post.

People brought up some interesting questions and stories… Continue reading

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Another unintended pesticide impact

The Guardian newspaper has recently reported that a common neonicotinoid has a dramatic effect on songbirds at very low doses.

This emphasises how our use of agricultural chemicals can have unintended consequences, and the importance of the Precautionary Principle. Birds aren’t the target species – they’re not even insects! Continue reading

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Back to school in Wolvercote

A few days ago two OxNatBees members were invited to Wolvercote Primary School to introduce children to bees and beekeeping as part of the school’s Big Science Day (along with investigations into Worms, Fireworks, Electricity, Microscopes, Rockets, Floating and Sinking, and Slime).

Ann P and Paul were assigned to Badger Class and set up a display of beekeeping equipment, posters and pictures in an alcove off the classroom. We talked to three classes over the course of the day and had taken along loads of things to show them.

Favourites proved to be examining an open (but empty) hive and handling its comb, tasting honey, and of course dressing up in suits and veils! A big thank you to Ann W, Will and Jack for lending us child-sized suits and suitable veils. And a big apology to the cleaners and parents for the sticky floor and clothes after the kids found the jar of runny honey…

Continue reading

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Storms, swarms and ox-born bees

WP_20171017_016.jpgOxford: the day after Storm Ophelia. I was walking home through the suburbs, and looking for bees. A beekeeper in Liverpool had reported an October swarm, possibly brought on by the unusual weather, so I was watching for swarm-scouts, or for other bees behaving in unusual ways.

In a subway under the ring-road I found what I was looking for: there were four of them, moving strangely inside the tunnel. They were flying an inch-or-two below the ceiling, and investigating the cracks and the crevices, the screw-holes and the edges of the maintenance hatches, looking and measuring with their bodies.
Continue reading

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More bad news for insects

New German research has found that insect numbers have plunged by 75% over 25 years, in nature reserves. It’s assumed the decline outside the reserves is greater. The Guardian reports on the issue here.

Germany is generally considered significantly better at conservation and environmental protection than Britain.

The cause isn’t determined but the chief suspects are the overuse of pesticides (specifically neonicotinoids) and lack of forage in surrounding farmland.

Watch for the usual pattern of denial, obfuscation and denigrating the research from the usual suspects.


Posted in Ecology, Pesticides | Tagged | 6 Comments

New Arrivals: The Rat Box Bees


the Rat Box, half hidden by fallen leaves and privet honeysuckle (Lonicera pileata)

There are now colonies in both of my hives. The Brexit Day colony are still strong, their entrance crowded with constant forage-traffic. Beside them are the Rat Box Bees, new arrivals to the garden. Their entrance is less busy – usually one or two foragers coming or going, then perhaps thirty seconds of total inactivity, before the rush as three bees return, with six packs of ivy-pollen clamped to their legs.

I found the Rat Box Bees in the week when September became October. I was walking home from work, and noticed honeybees flying into the undergrowth on the edge of the Science Park. It wasn’t the slow flower-to-flower forage-flight, but the determined bee-lines of homeward journeys. Some were carrying pollen: there was definitely a nest somewhere nearby.

Continue reading

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