The Queen’s arrival

Our new hive on Connaught House arrived a few weeks ago and we’ve been eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the new queen so that the hive could really get established.

She came all the way from Argentina (in the post!) and after a few days in quarantine, was ready to make her way to LSE.  So that she can get acclimatised to the hive, and the existing bees can get used to her, she stays in her travel container inside the hive for a few days (she’s accompanied by a few worker bees to make sure she doesn’t get hungry – like real royalty I guess!).

Last week it was finally time to release her into the hive.  It was a bit of a delicate process – you don’t want her to escape! – but everything went to plan.  And then this week, when we checked up on her, she was still there and things looked to be going really well.  Of the four queens Luke has introduced into London hives recently, ours is the only transplant that’s been successful so we’re feeling pretty happy!

A huge thank you to the LSE Annual Fund who provided a grant to make our new hive and planters possible – we’re really grateful!

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Getting prepared…

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Joseph, our Treasurer, making sure we’ve got enough smoke.

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She’s in! You can see the travel case in Luke’s right hand.

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Checking out the existing frames.

 

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Bees & Honey: Myth, folklore and traditions

Our very own beekeeper, Luke Dixon, has just published a new book Bees & Honey: Myth, folklore and traditions.

ImageHere’s the description: “From the beginning of time to the present day the book show the ways in which bees and beekeeping, honey and wax, are a part of the culture, mythology, theology and folklore of every people in the world. And how humans and bees have had a magical relationship since the creative of the world itself. We will spend a lot of time with the  Ancient Greeks, journey through the harems of Arabia to the savannahs of Africa. And we will visit the English countryside too. Everywhere we go, across centuries and continents, we will find that the tiny humble honeybee, man’s companion as long as there has been a man on the earth, has been and continues to be a source of wonder and magic.”

So if you’re interested and would like a copy (£9.95 inc. P&P), head to his site at www.urbanbeekeeping.co.uk!

In other news at Connaught House, the new queen is safely ensconced in her new hive, and we’re going to check on her tomorrow, May Day, to see how she’s going.  Hope to see you there at 1pm!

Sad news

Unfortunately, we have lost one of our hives at Passfield Hall.  There is a lot of honey in the hive that we can harvest, but sadly, lots of dead bees.

Luke is going to do an autopsy of the hive this Wednesday the 13th of March at 1.30pm (weather permitting!  If it’s snowing, stay tuned for further instructions) so hopefully we’ll find out a bit more about what went on.  If you would like to go, just wait in the foyer of Passfield Hall and everyone can go to the hive together.

Luke also tells us that a 20% – 30% loss over winter is about average so to lose one out of our three LSE hives is not too bad.  Others in London have also fared much worse so it’s not too bad a situation.  Fortunately the Connaught House hive is thriving and we’re really excited about getting our new hive up there as well.

What a pitch!

Congratulations to our newly appointed Executive Members for 2012/13, Joseph Wolfe (Treasurer) and Beauregard Simmons (Secretary)!  I (Amelia Sharman, President) am really looking forward to working with them to get our new hive on Connaught House up and running.

And, because it was far too funny not to share, here’s Beauregard’s pitch for Secretary.  It’s un-beelievably good!

“Why would I bee a good secretary? Well let me lay it out for you in black and yellow. Prepare to bee beedazled and beewitched beecause I’m no bumbling idiot. With the diplomacy of Beerack Obeema and the speed of Bruce Bee, I will help the LSE Beekeeping Society bee all it can bee with service fit for a queen. There will be no winging it or buzzing off when needed, even in the face of man eating zombees. If you choose me as your plan Bee and I finish beehind the others, you won’t hurt my feelers, though it may sting a little. Enough of me droning and waxing on though, but beefore I finish, I want to say I won’t appologize for this swarming of beed puns beecause, it’s not that its beeneath me, but I’m not pollen anyone’s leg. I would beehoove you all to beelieve in me.”

Next visit to the hive

It’s a bit cold at the moment in London, so the bees are all inside huddling up for warmth.  So while they might not be so active, it’s still a good idea for us to check in on them from time to time to make sure they’re ok and not needing any more winter feed or varroa treatment.

So, our next visit to the hive will be this coming Monday (11th of February) at 1pm.  Just take the lift to the 8th floor of Connaught House (or walk if you’re feeling energetic!), then continue up the last flight of stairs (around the corner to your right) to the roof.

This week we’re also going to be having some members of LSE SU’s Digital team who are planning to make a short video about the Beekeeping Society.  So, don’t be shy, say hello to Leon and his team while you’re up there!

Surviving the winter

Quite a few people have asked why we’re not harvesting any honey this year from our hive on top of Connaught House.  As much as I’d love some to spread on my toast, it’s actually because the bees need it!  We’re hoping that the bees will be able to feed themselves from their own honey over the winter as much as possible, rather than relying on us to feed them.  As of the end of October they were still getting pollen which is great – can you see it on the legs of this bee?

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However, they will need some help as the hive hasn’t been in operation long enough to create enough honey to last the whole of winter and the winter feed is pretty neat.  We’re feeding our bees something called Ambrosia, which is a commercially available mix of sucrose, glucose and fructose, and kind of looks like a big block of icing sugar paste.

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As you can see, they’re only eating it pretty slowly.  The whole in the middle of the bag is where the bees come up through the hive to have a nibble, before heading back down into the warmth of the main part of the hive.  You can read more about feeding bees over the winter here.

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The bees all huddle together around the queen, and operate a rotational system, kind of like penguins in the Antarctic, to make sure that everyone has a turn on the edge.  They manage to keep the interior of the huddle at a pretty balmy 20 degrees Celsius which I think is quite impressive!

So, all in all, our Connaught House bees are doing well and we’re hoping to improve the health of the Passfield Hall bees too (more on them soon).

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It’s dropped down to zero degrees Celsius here in London today, with a pretty thick frost cover, so here’s hoping our bees are still doing well!