Two swarms in the same hive: an update

Last summer, I wrote about the arrival of two swarms into the same hive. A wild swarm had settled in the empty top-bar-hive in my garden, and a week later a second swarm moved in. The arrival of this second swarm was not resisted in any way, and the combined colony has remained strong and healthy. I was not able to reach a definitive explanation, but have since found similar accounts, which are discussed here.

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ONBG meeting, 12 March 2017

A Newbee special

We gathered at the Marsh Harrier pub in Oxford on a Sunday afternoon to discuss beekeeping with some interested “newbees” who were seriously considering keeping bees themselves.

It’s remarkable how bees spark discussion: just carrying in a tiny hive (made for transporting swarms), a bartender spotted it and reminisced how his grandfather in Albania kept bees in the wall of his house, where they could fly out a hole in the wall, but you could open a cupboard door and observe the nest from inside the house. His first question after “are you a beekeeper?” was “do you use chemicals”. (No.) Continue reading

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Beginners start here

The first OxNatBees meeting of 2017 will be at the Marsh Harrier Pub in Oxford at 2pm on Sunday 12th of March.

The main focus will be on discussing plans for the coming year. There will also be some ‘pre-beginners’ who are considering getting bees – we hope that the experience and expertise of the group will help answer their questions. If you are reading this and considering keeping bees, feel free to drop by and ask questions.

Location: The Marsh Harrier pub on Marsh Road (OX4 2HH). For public-transport travellers, buses numbered 1 and 5 run from Oxford City Centre to Marsh Road every 15 minutes.

It’s five-minutes’ walk from Jack’s house, so there’s potentially an opportunity to come and look at his top-bar hive if the weather’s fine.

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Angry bees

Feral nest at head height next to path. Many guards versus wasps etc, but humans are ignored.

Feral nest at head height next to path. Many guards versus wasps etc, but humans are ignored.

This article dispels the myth that our native black bees are inherently ‘bad’, i.e. overly-defensive, and instead sets out the real genetic basis of why crossing bee races, black or otherwise, can lead to hybrids which are predisposed to be ‘hot’.

It turns out the real culprit for overly defensive strains of bee is … beekeepers. More specifically bee breeders thinking they are improving their stock by utilising queens of a non-local/imported race, but whose resultant crosses can make both their hives and their neighbours’ bad tempered.

Saying that bee breeders’ common practice for over a century is flawed is bound to be controversial, but I assert that free-mated local bees are ‘best’ (and not only to avoid ‘angry bees’) – follow the article through and decide for yourself.

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Winter forage

Bee on snowdrop. Click to enlarge

Honey bee with packed pollen baskets. Click to enlarge

After some frosty days, a warm sunny one yesterday and the bees were out harvesting any blossom.

Snowdrops provide a source of pollen, needed for early brood raising.

Today it’s chilly again and they’re all indoors. In winter, you take any opportunity you can.

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Calm bees

calm-beesPeople sometimes ask, how can I keep my bees calm? Particularly when I open a hive?

This post covers this aspect of beekeeping. The common theme is that the bees do not feel threatened.

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Spreading the Bee Buzz #10 – Surviving Winter

The latest in our series on beekeeping for a village magazine – written for non-beekeepers, and to suit the broad range of ages and knowledge among the readers.

Over winter insect life disappears from our gardens. The frosts have killed most, including the last of the hive-raiding wasps, but some insects hibernate, and below 8-10°C honey bees become slow, conserving energy, clustering together for warmth and eating through their honey stores. On a few days when it is sunny enough to warm their wing muscles, some will pop out on short toilet trips, often appearing just in front of a hive as a sudden cloud of bright darting sparks in the winter sunshine.

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