Saturday, 23 July 2016

Not everything went to plan

30% and I made an early start today and were heading towards the Tip well before nine o'clock. We had soon unleaded a trailer full of garden debris and were heading homeward.

After parking the trailer I decided to implement a plan that I had been mulling over for the past week. There is a large tree stump* in the middle of the briar patch that I am clearing and I had been thinking about using the Defender to pull it from the ground.  My recent clearance efforts had cut through the majority of the now rotten roots, so I thought I had a chance, but my rope was not particularly  strong and was the definite weak point in the plan.

We soon had the Defender positioned and the rope attached to the stump. 30% stood well back and I started to take up the slack and pull on the stump. As expected the rope gave way and the stump looked exactly as it had five minutes previously.

As we returned to inspect the stump 30% pointed skywards and we noticed a mass of bees. My colony had chosen this moment to swarm and for the next thirty minute the air was filled with bees until they settled in a nearby tree. The front of the hive was also covered in a blanket of bees that had remained.

I had obviously overlooked a mature Queen cell when I last inspected the hive a couple of weeks ago and, in the intervening time, she had hatched, mated and was now leading a swarm away from my hive.  I put out a nucleus box in the hope that the swarm might see it as an attractive home  and then returned to the Briar Patch.

With Plan A having failed I decided to proceed with a much more basic Plan B. A spade and Felling Axe were collected from the shed and I started to split away sections of the stump. It was hard going in the heat of the day but within a couple of hours I had reduced the stump to a solitary spike of wood attached to a rotted root.  Two or three swing of the axe severed the spike and I had finally removed the last major obstacle from the old rockery. From here on in it was just a few brambles and ivy.

In the afternoon 30% and I loaded up the Defender with beekeeping paraphernalia and headed over to The Tweedy's house to inspect the Daughter colony and catch up on their news.

The colony was doing really well and had consumed the three and a half litres of syrup that had been given to them last week. I removed the feeder and worked my way through the hive. I moved the outer frames inwards as the bees seem reluctant to draw the foundation on these. I also removed a frame of stores from the brood box and replaced it with a frame of foundation. Hopefully this will ensure that the Queen has plenty of space to lay.

We then spent a pleasant hour drinking tea and catching up on each other's news before heading home.

Next job was to take a look inside the hive that had just swarmed ...

... it was apparent that my assumption was correct.  I had missed a mature Queen cell a fortnight previously and she had definitely been laying. There were a dozen or more mature Queen cells in the hive and I reduced these to two in number. All I can do now is hope that the swarm has created sufficient space in the hive that the next Queen will settle and lay in the hive.

By the time I had finished my second hive inspection I was "cooked". I t had been a very hot day and I had spent most of it working in the sun. The evening was spent doing very little apart from rehydrating.
* There was a large Silver Birch that was felled back in 2007 when we prepared the site for the construction of our extension and garage.

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