Most of you will have heard of Brother Adam and the Buckfast bee he made his life’s work. It is sad that Buckfasts are no longer bred in the UK due, it is said to the problem of finding a suitably isolated site suitable for the mating apiary.
However a number of breeders have continued to breed and develop the Buckfast bee. One of them is Dr. Peter Stöfen whose breeding station is on the peninsula of Friedrichskoog, Germany. Dr Stöfen has produced some videos showing the excellent temperament of his bees. The video below is one example – German commentary only but worth watching. Oh for bees like these, I would kiss them too!
Visit the Friedrichskoog breeding station website.
Vita (Europe) has just released a smartphone app which they describe as ‘The first-ever smartphone app about keeping healthy honeybees …” and go to say that “The app is free and gives beekeepers easy mobile access to information and photographs about honeybee disease identification and treatment. The app, suitable for nearly all smartphones and tablet devices, can be downloaded free from www.healthybeeguide.com. It runs on Apple or Android, on iPhones, iPads, Samsungs and Blackberrys and the full range of smart mobiles.”
[UPDATE: Have now tried this....Seems this isn't an App but a mobile friendly website].
We enjoyed a great afternoon at Tom and Barbara’s. Tom was able to show us his bee colonies including the creation of a classic artificial swarm - a simple process which we agreed is much easier to understand when demonstrated than when read about. Thanks too to the bees who had helped by raising a swarm cell for the purpose, obviously, of the demonstration.
We then got down to the serious business of afternoon tea. Copious quantities of sandwiches, scones, and cakes had been prepared by Barbara for the feast with a constant supply of tea to keep the whistle wet.
Thank you Barbara and Tom for your hospitatility.
Swarming is a hot topic at the moment and once which causes many beekeeping beginners and novices stress.
Bees can raise a queen from a day old larva (i.e. 4 days after the egg was laid) and the cell will be sealed on the eighth or ninth day after the egg was laid. So at this time of the year inspections are recommended at four or five day intervals – we all have experience of going back a week after a previous inspection when no queen cells were seen to find that they now have sealed queen cells. At which point the old queen has usually left the hive.
Clipping the queens wing, or wings prevents her flight and so while she may leave she will fall in front of the hive* and after a time the bees that left with her will return until the first virgin queen emerges when they are likely to leave in a cast (secondary) swarm. But this can give you a few extra days and if the the attempted swarm has been seen then you have confirmation that the bees are intent on swarming and not superseding the queen.
The Demaree method can suppress the swarming urge – which simply destroying queen cells will not do – and requires the minimum of additional equipment. The rather good Barnsley Beekeepers Association website has this excellent description of the Demaree method.
The more adventurous beekeepers among you may wish to try using the Snelgrove method – also described on the Barnsley Beekeepers Association website.
*this may seem cruel but remember that survival rates of swarms are very low and swarms can find homes in a location causing problems for householders. So letting them go is not a good option.