Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bee Keeping for Complete Idiots

OK, so, today was/is lovely. Was because I have mucked around all morning, and most of the afternoon, and now I MUST chain myself to the 'puter and do some work....because I have a report due for a client this week, and because I won't get paid if I don't deliver!

SO naturally it is time to blog......

I thought more about the crazy comb, and decided on two things......

1) to minimise the chance of crazy comb happening in these new boxes I just added to both hives
2) to see if it is too late to salvage that box of crazy comb before it gets full of honey
OK, so, strategy 1: I did a thing called pyramiding...which involves pulling out one or two nicely built combs from the box below the one you are adding, and placing these in the centre of the new box which gives the girls something to work from when they draw out the rest of the frames......

Then, on the box below, move the frames all inwards to fill the space, and add empty frames to the outside to fill the gap.  Clear as mud.

Queen Malina on the Front Deck has plenty of lovely straight frames...... so I took an extra one for Queen Aprilia of the Crazy Comb.

Now both lots of bees have new boxes with at least 1 very straight well built comb so that they will hopefully build out all the remaining frames in the same way.

Which leaves the crazy comb box......the girls have not only half filled this box with random cross frame combs.... they are filling these up with honey as we speak. So, this box is already half full of un capped I am leaving it on.......and will deal with it later......Because if I trash it now, they won't have anywhere to store the honey, because there is no spare comb until they build it..... see my problem?

Sheesh. Some of you may realise that I do not seem to use conventional beekeeping methods. And you would be correct. I let the bees make their own comb - what ever size they like. I do not force them to use commercial, chemical filled foundation.......I do not mind if they need to spend extra energy and time building their own combs because I think they like it. I have a secret theory that this time of year especially, bees like to build comb....and if they don't have room to do this, then they are perhaps more likely to swarm. I do not know this for a fact. And, I do not particularly need or want to prevent the girls from swarming - I don't mind a bit. And it is just a theory.

Anyway, I model my bee herding methods on these folks here:
Yes, I am a backwards beekeeper! Who are we?

We're a group of organic, treatment-free beekeepers in Los Angeles, with branches now forming in other cities.

We're "Backwards" because we rely on observation and natural practices to keep our bees thriving rather than pesticides, chemicals, or treatments of any kind.

There is a really cool book you can buy which I think it s very handy resource. It is called Bee Keeping for Complete Idiots.

For any Oncian Urban Homesteaders - I have a spare copy if you would like to borrow it.

Anyway, this is my third year of bee herding....(or is it my fourth?) . So I am still a beginner - although I guess you always are.......and I love it.


dixiebelle said...

Next Spring, next Spring we get bees!! Then I will bugging you about everything...

The Duck Herder said...

Hi Dixiebelle if you would like to come and help me sometimes you would be very welcome! How should I get in contact with you?

Erin said...

Ms Duck Herder, may I ask... Is bees living in roofs a Thing That Happens? The other day we were sitting outside our house and there appeared to be a steady stream of them coming and going into and out of the roof. I've only seen them the once, but we've only been living here a couple of weeks, and there haven't been that many non-rainy days when we've been home.

The Duck Herder said...

Hi Erin
Yes, bees can sometimes move into your roof cavity, chimney, wall cavity - anywhere there is a nice space. Depending on where they are, you might want to have them moved out - if you email/phone your local beekeeping association they should be able to link you up with someone that can hopefully remove them safely. (if that is what you want)

Of course, they may have been living there a long time, in which case if they are not causing any trouble, you could leave them bee!

Erin said...

Ah, well I live in ONC, so I think my local bee keeping association might be you. But I'm happy to leave them bee hehe

The Duck Herder said...

Hi Erin - that is funny! Give someone on the swarm list a call if you are worried or think you might want to move them on - depending on how long they have been there - they could be very tricky or not too tricky to move out. Otherwise I hope that you can all bee happy sharing your home!