Bee Inspection

Having registered with BeeBase (a free database monitoring the health of honey bee colonies) only last week, we had a bee inspector offer to look at our colonies within days. The Grand Inspection took place today on our 2 Swarm hives, Hive1, our super-duper hive, got the all clear which was wonderful news, especially as there is European Foul Brood (EFB) in the area.

Unfortunately our second hive was indeed hopelessly Queenless and we didn’t have enough time to raise another Queen as the worker bees lifespan is so short in the summer. The inspector recommended that we shake the bees out and remove the hive, so they would join the thriving hive. This we did, I hope they were welcomed in as they were a lovely bunch of bees. We left a frame of drone brood and stores out for the birds/bees to take what they wanted and had the bonus of some nectar/honey to dip our fingers into.

So now we have an empty hive and will be keeping our ears and eyes open for another swarm..

Press Release: Two Wheels Not Four

Cycling is the key focus as this week is National Bike Week and local community groups are joining up to make the area more bike-friendly.

Sustainable Bungay are delighted to join forces with Beccles Cycle Strategy to become Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy and the two towns are sharing information and forging links to make both places easier and safer for cyclists of all ages. Margaret Sheppard of Sustainable Bungay cycled with County Councillor, Dave Richie and District Councillor, Simon Woods and Town councillor, Simon Thompson around Bungayin a two-wheel tour of the town and have identified key areas for possible new cycle paths. The new group is particularly keen on creating safe cycle routes for schoolchildren and are working with the local High School, Primary and Catholic schools.

Sustainable Bungay on Bikes...

This week as part of National Bike Week, the Strategy cycled some of the 5 Loop system around Beccles with the Godrich Cycling Club and Waveney’s tireless Green Party cyclist, Graham Eliot. They have devised maps that span in five directions like spokes of a wheel from Beccles. The maps will be launched this Saturday in Beccles, along with Dr Bike and free bicycle bells. “We hope to learn from the great work Beccles has done,” said Margaret Sheppard who has inspired Sustainable Bungay to take two wheels rather than four.

Sustainable Bungay is one of 350 official Transition initiatives. community-led responses to peak oil, climate change and the economic downturn. We actively work to promote low-carbon travel (Bungay was the first Suffolk town to engage in Carfree day in 2008) and forge alliances with other community groups. Cycling not only promotes health and fitness. but it is also zero-carbon, creates no pollution and in these stringent economic times, very cheap! It is also a great way to meet people, see the countryside and keep in touch with your neighbourhood.

careful now!

A Tale of Two Curves: Natural Limits and Economic Growth (30th June 2010)

Nick Watts has spent the last few months immersed in current economic theory and the economic history of the world. And now he feels ready and able to share some of the things he’s learnt with a wider audience.

Nick’s introductory talk will be about the reality of our economic situation – something that is often kept obscure by business, politicians and media – and the ways we can adapt and thrive in changing times. Nick will explore and demonstrate the 2 “curves”, which explain the fragility of our economy; provide a whistlestop tour of economic history, including a brief analysis of consumerism and the crunch of 2008; identify ways of adapting to these circumstances within the Transition framework and investigate ideas for promoting resilience in the local economy.

Nick has been putting together a mysterious list of props including a bell, ice hockey stick, and chess board. He promises audience participation and so – despite the rather serious subject matter – it sounds like it’s going to be a very entertaining evening…

7.30pm, Wednesday 30 June at in the Chaucer Club. 30 minutes, plus discussion. Free entry, bar open.

Nuc transfers

Transferring a frame from nuc to hive

As the beautiful weather continued into the afternoon we decided to transfer the nucs from their boxes into hives. After a brief interlude for me to pick children up from school/nursery we assembled at the Flixton site. After (our now usual) smoker lighting issues we placed the hive in position and transferred the frames across.

Hive 3 had some eggs in frames, but we couldn’t find the Queen! Hive 4 took three attempts but we found her in the end, phew! Interestingly, the bees in this colony had also built 2 Queen cups and one had a young larvae in it, are they dissatisfied with their young queen? I read somewhere that there is an increasing occurrence of young Queen supercedure, I don’t think anyone knows why this may be yet.

A lovely afternoon was had by all in the sunshine, only marred at the very end by Gemma getting stung – on the ear of all places. She has now been initiated!

Hopelessly Queenless

Hive 2

Finally a beautiful day for bee inspections. We are gaining in confidence and competence with handling skills, not nearly so many bees inadvertently squashed! However, lighting the smoker is not our forte and was beyond us nearly all afternoon, in fact the only time it going we didn’t need to smoke the bees and it was just drifting steadily into my lungs from the sidelines.

Hive 1 is thriving, no sighting of the Queen today but lots of recent eggs! We have given up on separating the original super from the brood box as there are eggs and honey (never mind shed loads of brace comb) everywhere. Instead, we popped a Queen Excluder on top and a new super on top of that, so now they have lots of room. The pollen was very varied and some was amazingly coloured, I saw one bee with bright cerise pollen in it’s leg pouches.

On opening Hive 2 where we had previously seen what looked like worker laid eggs, the 3 occupied frames were heavily populated by drone brood. Drones are the male bees, with little known purpose except to fertilize queens, they are maintained by worker bees and so are usually very much in the minority.

However, a colony raises drones (from unfertilised eggs) if it has an unfertilsed Queen (Drone laying Queen) or is Queenless. In the latter case the restrictions on workers (unfertilised female bees) laying are removed and in a last attempt to pass some genes on, drones are raised so they can mate with a Queen from another colony. This is termed Hopelessly Queenless. We may have to abandon the idea of this second colony and try to look after the remaining bees with Hive 1 somehow………

Nucleus arrival

Gemma and I took a trip to Diss today to pick up the two nucleus’ of bees we had ordered back in May. It was a hectic morning, with bits of hive needing to be organised and moved, frames to be picked up from someone who had stayed out in the garden late into the night putting them together and my three children to get washed, dressed and fed.

However, we soon found ourselves following the beekeeper through torrential rain to his apiaries where we found two boxes waiting for us with quietly buzzing bees inside. Our new queens are sisters, both hatched this year and marked blue.

When we reached the apiary site the wind was really blowing and I was wondering if we had made a mistake, however, once we walked down to the bottom of the hill it was lovely and sheltered and I think it is an excellent site. The nucleus boxes (smaller than a hive box) have been placed on stands where the hives will be until the weather is warm enough to transfer the bees. Once we got the boxes settled we went for the grand ‘uncorking’ which was only slightly marred by the extremely thorough putting in of the bungs, so the grand gesture turned rather into a steady wiggling..

Bees uncorked

Survival Tales

Becky writes: An amazing singer/songwriter is touring a range of unconventional locations across the UK, and is performing in Ilketshall St Andrew on the 24th – outside if the weather is good, in the barn if not.

Survival Tales a performance and workshop by Eirlys Rhiannon

Thursday 24 June 2010 – afternoon show – 12.30pm – 2:30pm*
Common Ground Land Co-operative, Clarkes Lane, Ilketshall St Andrew
(nearest postcode – NR34 8HR)

Children welcome – bring a picnic too!

£5 (no-one turned away for lack of funds)
Places need to be booked in advance –
*a free lunch will be on offer from 12noon , and the event will finish by 2.30pm

What’s it all about?

Survival Tales Flier

To survive in this world, we each create stories.

Our stories affect people around us, and in turn we get affected by the stories we hear and see every day.

To protect ourselves, we create safe stories: ‘the scientists are lying’, ‘the government will sort it out’, ‘this product will help’.

We need to decide how we live – but how do we make decisions? Is this version of democracy the best we can do? Who’s in charge? Can we trust any of our solutions?
Can we learn anything from history? And does anyone have a super-hero cape in my size?

Survival Tales is a series of small, intimate performance events, designed to take place in unusual venues, including living rooms, community gardens and social centres.

Contact us for booking details:

Produced in association with Natasha Machin and Trapese Popular Education Collective, with assistance from Artist Project Earth

Library Courtyard Progress Report (II)

June 16th: The brick appeal gathers pace with a Brick Amnesty event planned for June 27th. In the meantime we hope to deliver Kate’s bricks over the weekend and that Coley will be ready to start foundation work in the very near future. Requests for help will be circulated by email and via the googlegroup once a date and time is established for work to begin. Once we have this  gathering of people together we can begin to organise the resources that are still required with a view to securing funding from various sources which Kristian and Nick have been investigating over the last couple of weeks.  Paul Jackson has now potted-up the fruit trees which had been temporarily planted out in his own garden, but these are still ready to be put into the raised border when the brickwork is done and the soil has been delivered. The third waterbutt has now been installed and at least one of them is full to overflowing.

Very busy bees

It seems likely that our thriving colony (hive 1) has a young Queen. Chatting with Bob Spruce earlier in the week he said it is often young Queens that land in a hive and then swarm out again almost immediately. We also found 2 eggs in one cell yesterday, which, according to our experienced bee-keeper, could also suggest immaturity.

Brace comb in the Super

For some reason the Queen Excluder that came with the hive doesn’t fit so we have had to manage without for the moment. This means the Queen could have been anywhere in the hive – brood box or super – and we didn’t manage to find her. What we did find, however, were eggs, larvae, sealed brood, NO QUEEN CUPS, nectar, pollen and capped honey. There were different coloured pollens on the frames, ranging from orange to almost black (beans?), which bodes well for the bees ‘5-a-day’.

Frame showing capped brood and pollen stores

So it looks as if the bees have sorted themselves out and have got down to raising more bees and creating honey stores, rather than trying to supercede our very handsome Queen.

Hive 2 in contrast had done very little in the way of drawing out comb or creating food stores and there was little evidence of eggs. We found one in a Queen cup that didn’t appear to be at the bottom, so it is possible that a worker has been laying (her abdomen is shorter and doesn’t reach as far). Also no evidence of drones, so is it a Queenless hive, or has she just not got going yet?

To see a slide show of our afternoon visit

Hive 2

Second Swarm, Second Hive

In addition to our first swarm we now have a second one housed a couple of metres away. The bees went into their new hive really nicely and this time they stayed there! We know the Queen was with them as they had built a miniature comb from the roof of the travelling box overnight and she had laid one egg in each side.

We checked the first hive and they have been really busy, nearly all the frames had drawn comb and there was lots of pollen (very dark) and stored nectar. We also found eggs from 1 to 3 days old: day old eggs are tiny little dots standing upright in the bottom of the cells, second day eggs lean at 45 degrees and third day eggs lie down.

To my amazement and extreme satisfaction I spotted the Queen! She was really long, very dark and beautiful; lovely to see. The workers had built another 3 Queen cups (5 in total) and 2 had eggs in. The cups were placed in the centre of the frames which may suggest supercedure rather than swarming. We now have a few days in which to decide what we do next.

Apologies for the lack of photos, I was in a bit of a hurry leaving the house and forgot the camera. I shall try to make up for it next time!

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