Copper Bee Apiary

A garden apiary in Whittlesford, Cambridge, UK - honey bees and their beekeeper Hilary van der Hoff.

Back with a Vengeance

We brought the Disc Hive home from the farm this weekend. The hive spent the whole summer on the farm, but sadly little honey has come from it, as nectar flows across the whole region were very low this summer. The picture was the same at the home apiary. There will be no Copper Bee Apiary "Summer of 2017" honey.

While it is good to have tried an "out apiary", and even though it did relieve the over-crowding of the colonies at home, having a hive at the farm was far less convenient than having all the colonies at home. So I'm glad that all the bees are now back in the garden.

You may imagine a joyful homecoming of the Disc Hive bees, rosy cheeked from their summer in the open fields, and all smiles at settling into the garden where they have a nice position next to the quince tree. But this colony of bees is the angriest ever! Moving them was about as much fun as wrestling a nest of scorpions. Winged scorpions. In their thousands.

We sealed up the hive at dusk, wrapped it with ratchet straps, carried it into the trailer and drove it home. Then the following morning we got up early, unloaded the hive, carried it through to the back garden and re-opened the entrance. Maybe that all sounds rather easy. And maybe moving hives sometimes is simple, but in this case it wasn't. I'm afraid nobody had much fun at all.

There was one thing that was easier than expected though. The hive proved light to lift and carry. I had feared we would be straining to carry a tremendously heavy weight up that uneven grassy bank in the near darkness to get it to the trailer. But the hive was mercifully easy to lift. A lightweight hive is not what you'd usually hope for, as it indicates a lack of honey (very heavy) and bees (also quite heavy) inside. But in this particular instance I was grateful for it.

What to do with these angry bees? I believe they are instinctively angry, driven by angry genes inherited from angry Queen Honey! I had hoped that their new queen, Queen Irene, would bring about an improvement in the colony's temper. Irene means "peace". Well, she didn't live up to her name. Queen Irate is more like it.

Any volunteers to pick the quinces when they are ripe?

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