How to tell if a hive is alive in winter

Click to zoom

We are having some very late snow for this area. How can you tell, by looking at the outside, if these hives’ bees are alive or not? (Answer below)

Continue reading

Posted in Hives, Inspections, Warré | Tagged | Leave a comment

Infrared images of hives in winter

(Ambient: 2C.) Resembling a rocket taking off, the glow below is simply trapped heat in the shadow of the hive, which has not yet radiated away. The bees are clustered above.

I mentioned borrowing an FLIR (heat vision) camera from Jack in an earlier post. He blogged some pictures of his own TBH’s taken with it. Now here is what I saw on a variety of hives belonging to myself and others, at the beginning of winter, when the bees cluster together for warmth.

I had the camera for a couple of days and tried different settings. I realised a couple of things were artefacts of the way I was using the camera. For example it’s pretty low resolution, so if you take a picture from, say, 10 feet away you see a blurred “average” of the heat distribution. But go within 3 feet and suddenly you see bright spots in the wood – hot spots where screws are conducting heat out, and bees will feel colder next to these. It brings home why some people aim to minimise use of screws. Continue reading

Posted in Hives, TBH, Warré | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in TBH | Tagged | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Honey, Meetings, ONBG, Pests | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Pesticides | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Event, Honey | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Local lore, Swarms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment