JP’s super-storey

Barrow loaded with honey box

Today I was invited to participate in the building of an extension on JP’s hive – the addition of the all-important second storey (correct term = ‘super’), where the honey that the bees make for us is to be produced. The honey on the first floor of the hive is their own personal stash.

This saw not one but two milestones passed. Firstly we had to get up close and personal with the bees, with JP actually handling the frames. And secondly, we were legitimately able to get the beekeeper’s kit on.       

JP lighting Smoker

 So, a quick run through the checklist. The new storey had been painted and wax sheets stuck on to the 9 frames. Queen Excluder and Beekeeper’s Tool, check. Smoker smoking, check.

As complete novices, we had been advised to wear sporty shoes, in the event of a quick getaway. At this stage, it is also deemed wise to accessorise the outfit with long, leather gloves. These are shunned by the Venerable Bee-de, as they are rather restritive – but were are more than happy to cover up, and especially happy to be sporting the top with inbuilt headgear – proper beekeeper stuff. 

JP taking the veil

So all kitted up, it was off to the paddock, with a sense of heightened anticipation and excitement.      

Dallas was in charge of the Smoker, and the first job was to waft a few puffs through the front door. Having taken off the roof, the next job was to remove the sticky tape from the cover, a few more puffs of smoke and then JP lifted up a couple of frames – mainly to evaluate the progress of honeycomb building. The outer 2 frames still have plenty of work to be done on them.

 JP then gradually slid the grill that is the queen excluder over the lower storey (correct term = ‘brood box’). The trick here seemed to be to do this slowly enough so as to not squash any bees, but fast enough so they all didn’t come up and find out what was going on.  

Then pop on the new storey, back on with the roof et voila – hive suitably extended, bees still calm – and no mishaps, no bee stings. Job done! 

checking frames

sliding over the queen excluder

     

Jean-Philippe and his hive

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Bee Ready

Bee Square : all ready for the new hive

Not long to wait now – all is in readiness for the new arrivals. All bee-keeping kit and caboodle has been sourced and purchased (quite an extensive list of Stuff). Exterior walls of the hive have been painted a rather odd, metallic green. Sheets of wax have been melded onto frames (more of that later, and the Delhom Methode for melting wax). A patch of the ‘garden’ has been determined suitable for bees (not too hot / cold / windy), cleared of weeds, covered in gravel and a pallet carefully levelled. This is now referred to as Bee Square (it’s 3m x 3m).

A local Master of Bees, Monsieur G. of Colomiers (henceforth referred to as the Venerable Beede), with 74 years experience of keeping bees, was contacted to let him know that we were keen to take the plunge into the intriguing world of apiculture. He called back some days later to let us know that he had a new colony up and running, and it was time to take the empty hive to him. He has added the populated frames, and anticipates that it will take about 10 days for this new colony to feel established in the hive. We saw them a few days ago and they are thriving and multiplying.

Now we just have to wait for the next phone call to say that we can go and pick up the hive and bring the babies home.