Shortly after breakfast we headed out in to the garden and my first job was to manoeuvre a builder's bulk bag, half filled with chipped prunings. behind the shed. This was upended and I then spent a few minutes raking this mulch out as a weed suppressant.
The empty "Builder's Bag" was then taken over to the heap of brambles that I cut yesterday and 30% made a start on filling it. I gathered an armful of tools from the shed and headed back to continue clearing the old rockery. It was hard going, but progress was being made until I reached the stump of a young Yew tree that I had felled earlier in the year ...
... The next two hours were taken up with working my way around it, excavating soil and taking a felling axe to the stump and its supporting roots. The task was complicated by the presence of rocks and the close proximity of a Silver Birch stump that added to the subterranean tangled mess. Eventually the stump started to move as I dug. This was the sign that I had one one or two more roots to cut and a few moments later I was victorious, clutching the stump like a Gladiator with the head of his victim.
Lunch followed and I then took half an hour to relax and attempt to restore my blood sugar levels to something approaching normal.
My plan for the early afternoon was to inspect the hive, but the sky had clouded over so I hit the briar patch again ... clearing brambles and ivy was certainly a breeze after the effort of removing that bloody stump.
After a an hour or so the clouds had cleared and TP and I assembled beekeeping accessories, donned bee suits and approached the hive for it's weekly inspection.
The top Super was in good shape and seemed to be slightly heavier than last week. This was put to one side and the Queen Excluder was removed. We then looked through the second Super/Brood Box. The fair weather over the past week had encouraged the bees to further draw out the foundation and there were signs that pollen and nectar were being stored. Surprisingly there was no sign that the Queen had made her way up in to this box as no brood could be seen.
The Super/Brood was put to one side and we made a start on the Deep Brood box. It was rammed with bees and I could see that there were Swarm Queen cells, even before I started to inspect the frames. A snap decision was made ...
... I needed to split the colony or a swarm was inevitable.
The spare hive was placed close by and we started to work through the Brood box searching for the Queen. As we made our way through the frames a note was made of where there were Queen cells. We were lucky and quickly located the Queen. She was moved, along with five frames of Brood to the new hive. A frame of bees was shaken in, to increase the size of this new colony further and then the hive was sealed shut.
We returned to the original hive and removed all but two of the Queen cells. Frames of foundation were added to replace the frames of brood that had been removed and the hive was reassembled. I really hope I have done the right thing.
While we were doing this, 30% rang The Tweedy household and informed them to expect a colony of bees in the next hour.*
After a well earned coffee break, the new hive was strapped shut and loaded in to the back of the Defender. TP and I then headed off towards Redditch and soon had the hive installed in a patch of geraniums at the bottom of the Tweedy's garden.
They seem genuinely pleased to have the new colony in their garden and are looking forward to see how things go over the next couple of months. I warned them that I needed to return tomorrow to add a feeder and syrup to the new colony.
TP and I then left for home. It is fair to say that I did very little for the rest of the evening. I was absolutely shattered and troubled with concerns for my newly split colony of bees.
I really hope I have done the right thing.
---* They were semi-prepared for this eventuality, as we nearly needed to split the hive a couple of weeks back.