Now that we have bees back we have to look after them. We have currently, two hives. One of them is what is called a top bar hive. It looks like this...
Anyway the top bar hive is intended to be a more 'natural' form of beekeeping. You supposedly don't need to interfere with the bees as much. However it is supposed to be amenable to inspection so the bee inspectors can make sure everything is ok and the hive isn't harbouring some hideous disease. Our top bar hive, having given up the ghost last year and then become repopulated is not very easy to inspect.
When, 2 weeks ago, we moved the hives against all advice, approximately 100 metres (up a small slope, over some rough ground, down a small slope) the top bar hive was very heavy. And the bees had built comb in all sorts of directions. So if we just tried to lift out one bit we would have torn it apart. And it isn't really possibly to lift out the whole thing. So the top bar bees are probably just going to have to get on with it as nature intended. They seem to be doing pretty well. There were a lot of bees hanging around the hive yesterday.
Now, in that last paragraph I mentioned that we moved the bees against all advice. You are only supposed to move bee hives either less than 3 feet or more than 3 miles. Anything between these confuses the bees so much because they use the sun and various fixed landmarks to navigate that they end up just hanging around exactly where the hive was and can't find their way home. Less than 3 feet and they can presumably smell their way home or just plain old see the hive. More than 3 miles and when they leave the hive they look around and say, 'What the heck?' and do a bit of learning the landmarks before they head off foraging.
Last time we moved the hives we had a bigger car and it was feasible that we could move them more than 3 miles. And even now, the thought of driving 5 miles with beehives in the back of the car gives me the heebiejeebies!
This time we didn't have a different location and we couldn't have moved the bees that far anyway. We had to move them more than 3 feet because the kind farmer who allowed us to put the hives on his land wanted to use the area for "rich Londoners to store their crap on."
So Denise and I asked the Internet what to do. And lo it came to pass that the Internet had all sorts of advice ranging from 'don't do it!' to 'do it!' with some slightly more helpful hints and tips. And anyway we were going to have to just bite the bullet and do it and hope for the best.
So we just did it.
We moved both of the hives and when we checked them a week and a half ago they both seemed to be doing fine. but the little National hive was really skanky! Full of debris and possibly dead moths (moths are one of the things that can do for a hive and I think they had moved in prior to the current residents) We reckoned that we needed to give them a nice clean home.
If you're interested, this is what a National Hive looks like, being assembled by Denise...
Did I mention that it was very hot yesterday?
Did I mention that I sweat a lot?
Did I mention that it gets very hot inside a bee suit?
Did I mention that bees don't like sweat?
The bees got very angry with me. We cleared off as soon as we could. We'll need to go back next week and check they settled in okay. But if they don't they seem to be doing a pretty good job of making new homes.
At least I didn't get stung.
But I should have done yesterday's weigh-in after the trip to the beehive. I reckon I was a couple of pounds lighter.