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Everything posted by MedusA

  1. My friend and I inspected our allotment hives on Friday. One of the nucs had a dark shape at the bottom on the OMF. We removed some frames and THIS is what we found! I've heard of it happening but never seen it before. Poor little thing.
  2. MedusA

    Mating Swarm

    Nothing yet (Friday was inspection day), but I'm hopeful she will start laying soon. If not I might put a test frame of eggs from my nuc in. Sometimes that seem to work in dropping a hint to a newly-mated queen. My friend has a hive she artificially swarmed a few weeks ago. She was really pleased last week when there were loads of eggs and larvae, but this week it's all turned out to be drone brood! Even in the super. I wonder what's going on there? Laying worker? Incompletely mated queen? What do we do with all that drone brood.....not to mention the wrecked super frames?
  3. We've been adding supers left right and centre since the weather warmed up. Lack of space to store nectar is one of the triggers for swarming so it pays to be ahead of the bees. *off to make up more supers*
  4. MedusA

    Mating Swarm

    I had a surreal experience on Tuesday. My bees at home appeared to be swarming. My first thought was that I'd missed a second QC and it was a cast. So I watched them closely to see where they ended up. The air was full of bees. Then all of a sudden they started heading back and landed on the front of the hive and slowly started going back in. At first I couldn't work out what was going on. Then it occured to me it could have been a mating swarm (where the virgin emerges for her mating flight and the bees get confused and start to go with her before realising their mistake and heading back). I'd heard about them but never seen one before. I discussed it at my local BKA apiary meeting that night and had it confirmed that was what it was. Fascinating! Beekeeping is certainly never dull!
  5. We've been religiously checking the hives every 7 days for the last couple of weeks or so. After the cold April/early May when we had to feed the bees to keep them alive, the warm weather has had the colonies expanding at an alarming rate. We've artificially swarmed my bees at home and one of the allotment colonies. The other allotment colony swarmed, despite our best efforts, as we'd obviously missed a hidden queen cell despite looking carefully. We managed to capture and hive them but they absconded 2 days later, ungrateful little blighters. Bees are swarming like crazy around this area. All our swarm collectors are run ragged. It doesn't help that people in general don't seem to know the difference between honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees or wasps. A lot of the call outs are wasted journeys. We've currently got: 1 hive and 1 nuc at home 2 hives and 3 nucs at the allotment
  6. MedusA

    Bee progress!

    My advice would be to make sure you burn all the old combs and start afresh and scorch out the boxes well, before you use the old hive. Just in case there was disease present. Your local BKA should be able to test a sample of bees for you. Apologies if I'm preaching to the converted. I'm panaroid about hive hygiene because my role model is our local seasonal bee inspector. He has instilled it in me now.
  7. Done. I signed a similar petition last year. We just have to keep plugging away.
  8. Comiserations and condolences. I too have an ex-batt (from April 2010) who is off to the vet today (to be PTS). She has had peritionitis for a while and now her crop just isn't emptying (I think she has a tumour or blockage lower down - it's definitely not impacted). I lost her rescue friend a few weeks ago. Sadly, the ginger ex-batts all seem to have the same problem come what may. When they stop laying, their egg-producing bits go wrong. At least they have a loving, caring, free home for a while to enjoy being "normal" hens. We just have to be thankful for that time we have with them.
  9. If it's any consolation to know, I went through something similar a couple of years ago with my cuckoo Silkie, Muggle. She had impaction which became sour crop and was poorly for several weeks. She had a combination of starvation and massage then sloppy diet, antibiotics and metacam for ages and then we started reintroducing more solid foods as she recovered. She was left with a huge pendulous crop which needed regular massaging daily for months. Now she still has a swinging crop, but it does empty by itself (most of the time). I still check her every few days and if it feels full, I give her a massage. But on the positive side. She's still here and still enjoying life, with a little extra TLC. Good luck.
  10. It could be she's brewing a softie. They really do go off colour until they've laid it, but usually bounce back once it's out of the system. The faded colour of the eggs could mean she's still not getting enough calcium in her diet, despite your best efforts. I use limestone flour (most horsey suppliers sell it). I mix it into a warm porridge with layers pellets and the girls love it. A couple of days of that will ensure she's got her calcium levels topped up.
  11. If she doesn't pick up in a day or two, I would suggest taking her to the vet and requesting a course of Baytril. If she has an infection,that should sort it as it's broad spectrum. In my experience, they won't prescribe without at least seeing the chook. Hope she receovers.
  12. How absolutely brilliant! Well done Hermione! I have a Suffolk Noir hybrid that I bought in September 2007 and she was laying then, so is at least 5 now. She still lays fairly regularly. What is the oldest recorde age for a hybrid, I wonder?
  13. What a fab photo! A good one for the next caption competition methinks????? She's the double of my partridge Silkie, Squib, who is in the slammer again for 3 days to snap her out of being broody. She hadn't done it at all this winter, so a part of me hoped she'd got it out of her system, but no. *sigh*
  14. Congratulations! I'm with Olly on the Ted Hooper book. It's my beekeeping bible. I'd also recommend a "starting with bees" type book as Ted can be a bit daunting for a beginner. I also used Paul Peacock's book and found it really useful to get me through the first year. I'd definitely recommend joining your local BKA for advice, support and insurance reasons. Glad to hear you've got a mentor. It is so useful to have someone experienced to answer all those questions you are bound to have. Good luck!
  15. MedusA

    Bee progress!

    We've now carried out two full inspections (on some of the warmer days). We did lose one colony over winter. The old queen we united back (because the new queen didn't get properly mated) failed to come back into lay so the colony just dwindled away. All our surviving colonies are building up at an alarming rate and we've been warned to be on the look out for early swarming preparations in this area. They have drones being produced already, but no sign of queen cups yet. We've even got two supers on a couple of colonies already as they are bringing in loads of nectar, with the weather being unseasonably warm. The current cold snap may slow them down a bit though.
  16. MedusA

    Advice please!!!

    What an excellent idea OSH! I have bad wrists and really struggle with the weight of a full super too. I'm a huge Omlet fan for the Eglu and Cube, but agree with Olly, Nationals are the hives for me. A budget cedar flat pack hive from T***ne's is currently £145 delivered, so a lot cheaper than the Beehaus. My biggest concern with them initially was sterilization of parts (you just need a blowtorch for a wooden hive) but I gather the NBU has now agreed that soaking in a hypochlorite or caustic soda solution is possible. Regardless of that, you would need 2 hives at least (by the second year), whatever you choose. As with anything in beekeeping, it's totally your choice. Whatever suits you and your bees. Good luck!
  17. Sadly had to have one of my first batch of ex-batts PTS last week. She had (I think) peritonitis and I went the week before to have her PTS but the vet talked me out of it and suggested trying a course of antibiotics. She had a week of them but never improved . She ended up waddling upright like a penguin, bless her. We took her back last Monday and insisted the deed was done. She looked so peaceful afterwards, I knew we'd done the right thing. Sweet chooky dreams Thymey-Whymey. Here she is not long after we got her.....still a bit baldy-waldy. Sadly, I think her fellow ex batt Rosie is going the same way and won't be long before she joins her. Still, they've had almost 2 happy years out of the cage, trashing the garden and being proper hens. I got them in April 2010 from Ian and Mollie at Coventry BHWT. Parsley, their other friend is, I am happy to say, still laying and still as naughty as ever.
  18. MedusA


    I buy a big block and cut it up into slices that fit in those plastic "Chinese" containers. I put on one at a time and it gives me a more accurate picture of how much the bees are taking. I cut a container-shaped hole in the centre of a block of 50mm polystyrene and put that inside an eke with bubble wrap over the fondant container and then the roof. They have definitely needed the fondant as we had quite a wasp problem robbing the hives of winter stores due to the mild weather. My bees have been flying quite a lot this winter, unlike last year!
  19. I can't preach as I'd be the first there to take on this chook if it were me. I agree you should be cautious though and find out the background of this hen and check it would be OK to add it to your flock before agreeing to rehome it. I always isolate new hens for 2-3 weeks anyway to make sure they are healthy before slowly introducing them to my girls. Do keep us posted.
  20. So sorry to hear your sad news. I have only ever found one of my hens dead unexpectedly. I think she had a stroke, as she'd been right as rain the evening before. It's hard to know what to do for the best. What a fabulous pic to remember her by though. RIP little chook.
  21. Oooooh! Gorgeous girlies! I adore my Silkies. I don't tell the other girls this, but they are my favourites, especially Muggle, my little Cuckoo Silkie who has the most endearing waddling run. Her pendulous crop flops from side to side alarmingly but doesn't appear to cause her any problems. Her friend Squib is Partridge, very prone to broodiness and quacks like a duck. They are so friendly and like to be cuddled which makes them a big hit with children when I take them to our allotment fairs. I have vowed always to have at least 2 Silkies in my flock.
  22. Thay are adorable. I would so love some Frizzles one day. I think the cuckoo one looks like a feather duster! Salt (white) and Pepper (cuckoo)?
  23. Yep! That's Silkies for you! I love my two to bits but Muggle in particular is very dense. I'm pleased to say that since I got my new ex-batts in October, I've been swimming in eggs. But then again, I have got 13 chickens and only about 4 or 5 of them are laying.
  24. Thank you all for your lovely comments. They are now in with the big girls and settling in quite nicely. I did section off part of the WIR for a while, but they kept escaping, so now they are fully mingling. They are still very flighty at the moment and difficult to catch for a cuddle, but I'm hoping that they will calm down soon. I haven't dared let them free range with the other girls yet, but at least they get the run to themselves for a couple of hours a day.

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