This past month has been really challenging for my poor bees as unusually strong gusts of wind have been plaguing the various apiaries I am responsible for.
My first casualty was a lone Warre hive we keep in my husband’s orchard, about 5 miles away.
This hive is one I was given by a retiring beekeeper, four years ago. The colony in it died out after swarming two years ago, but after placing the empty hive on the edge of the orchard a swarm moved in almost straight away.
I don’t take honey from these girls but plan to add a hive or two this year and maybe take a split, or preferably entice a swarm into the empty hive.
It was devastating to get a call from the landowner informing me that the hive had toppled over.
In the early hours of last Monday morning, I visited, carrying all the necessary tools and clothing necessary to right the colony again.
The roof on this hive is extraordinarily heavy, a strain to lift it alone, and certainly when attached to the hive. I was concerned that the hive may be too heavy for me alone.
Approaching the hive, I could see bees buzzing, which was a relief. Loosely held together by the strap, the base of the hive was open enough to expose some natural, bare, comb.
Exposed empty honeycomb
There were a few bees flying around, although the blustery cold showers were off putting to me, let alone these sun loving insects!
I managed to loosen the strap and remove the roof, finding that propolis was holding the majority of the hive tightly closed.
With my core tightened, and a hefty tug, I was able to pull the hive back to the upright position, then ease the boxes on top of each other.
After seeing the exposed bare comb, I decided that the bees would probably need some extra feed. I added some organic fondant with added pollen and minerals above the crown board, then replaced the lid.
Sitting with the bees
I sat with them for a while, and have visited a few times since, in case they have been struck by another gust of wind.
Thankfully all is well, and I love how they come to the entrance to say ‘hello’ when I’m visiting!
If you’d like to read more of my ‘bee tales’ you can find my book ‘Artist to Bees‘
in my website ‘Shop‘