Saturday, 1 October 2016

Another Bee-keeping Workshop

The second bee-keeping workshop was another wonderful day with a new group of interesting and lovely people.  The weather was against us again, but we managed to find lots of things to do with the bees so that the participants could get a hands on experience.
The workshop day goes so fast, with the morning mostly taken up with learning about the equipment and how to use it, the box and its components, morning tea on the side verandah (most important), a lesson in making frames, threading the wires and embedding the wax foundation sheets.

 Caitlin and Shaun with the frame they made.
As it was too cold to extract any honey, we were only able to demonstrate how we do it. Hopefully in November, for our next workshop, the day will be warm enough to take some honey.
 After a lunch break, we suited up in our various selection of bee suits, ready to get hands on, up close and personal with bees.
We have been getting lots of calls about swarming bees ever since I wrote a post in our local community Facebook page, offering to collect them for no fee, so we were fortunate to bring home a wine barrel with bees in it on the day before the workshop.
A shout out here.... If you have a wine barrel that you use as a decorative stand or table on your deck or outside area, please plug up the hole. Swarming bees love to move into this kind of structure and will make it their new home. Last week we had two calls about bees that had set up home in wine barrels. There is no way to remove them from the barrel without breaking apart the barrel, and one caller was not prepared to lose her barrel, so all we could recommend to her was extermination for those bees.  Something we hate to see done.

 A lesson in how to remove bees from a wine barrel.

A puff or two of smoke to slow them down and coax them out.

The Queen is in here somewhere.
Moving the bees from the barrel to a nuc box was a great lesson in how to move bees. Our neighbor Meg, who had been to the workshop the week before, called in to watch the activity and to collect the Queen that we had promised her. 
We had helped her to catch a swarm during the week, and a few days later, when she opened the box to check them, she could see no brood or any signs of a Queen. We had planned to unite this barrel lot with another small hive that has a Queen, so this Queen would be surplus to our needs, and perfect for Meg.
Brian was head down, tail up for awhile, finding the elusive Queen and putting her into the little Queen cage with a few workers. They will look after her for the few days it takes to eat their way through the candy plug after Meg has slipped the cage into her hive. 
A new Queen will not be immediately accepted into a hive, but by the time the bees on the outside have eaten some of the candy plug, and the bees on the inside have eaten through their end of the candy plug, they will know each other and will all live happily together.

The bulk of the bees from the barrel were tipped into the box, the lid put on, and a walking bridge to the front door was placed in front of the hive. By the end of the day, all bees had moved into the box.

As a bonus to end off the day, we received word from a previous workshop participant that two swarms were attached to some rose bushes at our local oval and park lands.  We all suited up and rushed off in our cars to collect them. 

There were some strange and curious looks from the folks driving past in their cars. 
How often would so many bee suits be in one place?
We have been inundated with calls to collect swarms of bees in our district, far and wide. When Brian made lots of these small "Nuc" (nucleus)  boxes early in the year, I wondered "What was he thinking?" but now I can see why.
Spring is the season for bee swarms and here in South Australia they are prolific, so we are thrilled that people are aware and making the call to us to collect them because, every bee is precious!


  1. We used to live in Tanunda and I have never seen water like this near the vines - astounding.

    1. The drone pictures on Facebook have been fascinating to see Mr HM. As so much of the Barossa was impassable I wasn't able to get close enough to take these photos myself. Onlookers are definitely not welcomed. Now that the worst flooding has subsided, and we can move around easily, we are seeing many vines that are still under water.

  2. Swarms to collect, what a lovely bonus to be able to take care of them and help set someone up in the near future.

    So good to see that you fared well with no major damage , good to be prepared and self sufficient for a few days.

    1. Brian takes "be prepared" very seriously, whereas I'm more of a "lets wait and see what happens" kind of person. I'm thankful now for his preparedness Margaret.


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