Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bee Keeping

I have doing a beekeeping course with the North Bucks Bee Keepers’ Association and have learn' t lots of things about bees.
Bees have been kept for honey production quite successfully in earthenware pipes, straw skeps, wooden boxes and all types of hives. The most popular type of hive in the UK is the National hive and consists of a roof, crown board, super (chamber were bees store honey), brood chamber (were the Queen lays all the eggs), entrance block and the floor.
There are three different types of bees in a bee hive. The majority of bees are workers (sterile females). They collect nectar to make honey. A worker bee’s lifespan can be as little as five weeks and as long as six months. Drones are distinctly bigger than worker bees and don't sting unlike worker bees. The drones are male and get to fertilise the Queen bee although they usually die when they have mated with the Queen bee. The Queen bee has a longer body than the worker bees and lays all of the eggs for new bees in the bottom of the bee hive. She can live for up to five years.
The Queen bee who is fertilised by drones lays all her eggs on frames of wax in the brood chamber at the bottom of the bee hive. Honey is also stored on these frames of wax in the brood chamber. Honey is also stored in Supers (or upper chambers).

This is a brief summary of the bee keeper’s year:
January
Check that there are sufficient stores (Stores is the honey stored around the brood chamber for feeding larvae)
February
Check that there are sufficient stores
Crumbs on board shows the hive is being used
March
Check all colonies are flying
April
First inspection
May
Continue inspections, 7 – 10 days
Keep records
June / July
Continue inspections
August
Remove honey
September / October
Treat for varroa (if not done in August). Varroa is a debilitating blood-sucking mite that infests bees.
Check if treatment temperature dependent
November / December
Check that there are sufficient stores
Protect against woodpeckers and mice

The waggle dance is the figure-of-eight dance bees use to communicate good places to forage.

Swarming—The biggest reason for bees to swarm is overcrowding. If a colony gets too big for the hive the queen will lay eggs in special queen cells, then leave the hive with about half of the workers to find a new home.
The remaining workers will look after the developing queen larvae. The first one to emerge will kill the other developing queens, then a few days later will go out on a mating flight with the drones. On her return she will take up where the old Queen left off.

Some of the pests and diseases bees can get are:
Varroa - a debilitating blood sucking mike which is about 1.7mm long.
Nosema - a micro-organism that a lot of bees carry which can cause dysentery when the bees are stressed.
CHALK BROOD - leaves mummified, chalky larvae in the brood frames were bees keep the young and is not considered serious.
FOULBROOD - a serious bee disease which comes in the form of American Foulbrood (AFB) or European Foulbrood.

Me wearing a bee suit.
Bee hives
Smoking a hive. Smoking relaxes bees so they won't sting.
Inside a bee hive.
Frames.
Marking the Queen Bee in a cage with a yellow dot.
The yellow dot on the Queen bee makes her easy to find.
A frame.
 Alex Fox

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