Archive for Bees

9 Eggs, 4 Chicks, 2 Tomatoes & A Hive Of Bees

So there I was in the pub last night wondering what I might get up to today, when in walks Hussain the Imam of the local mosque. He wanted to know
what time the buses to Kardjali were the next day as he had to go in and buy some chicken. After my last day trip with the Imam
this was too good an oppoutyunity to miss.

So I told him that I would give him a lift and we could go whenever he wanted. 08:30 the next moring we depart for the metropolis that is Kardjali. Park next to the market and head off to the live
chicken stalls. Much haggling, inspecting and choosing later we head back off to the car with a box full of chicks all chirping away quietly to themselves. Before leaving Kardjali
we visit one of the soup kitchen thingys for Chicken soup (Irony just doesn’t work here), the obligatory half a loaf of bread, and lots of dried chilli and garlic
sauce all before 10:00 am.

On the way back through Djebel Hussain suggests we stop off for a quick Turkish coffee in his local cafe in Djebel much to delight of everyone in there. After the usual greeting
of everyone it seems in the whole of Djebel we head back to the car to make our way back to Samodiva. In the car park we spot one of our neighbours so fill the car up with his shopping and head back.

It is still on 10:30 when we get back and I already feel as though I have had a good day.

The sun is out, so start on the planting out of my red cabbage (everyone else grows green ones but I like to be different). I am not in my garden more than 20 mins
when Hussain is back, thinking he must have left something in the car I go over to meet him. He is carrying the chick box with 4 chicks still in it.

Turkey Anyone?

My Turkey Chicks

At this point Halil turns up telling me that as Metin his son is away in Belgium could I go and give him a hand as his Bees have swarmed. This whilst taking detail instructions
from Hussain on advanced Turkey husbandry – By all accounts they are a bit more difficult than your standard chickens!

So off I head to Halil’s house with bee mask gloves and smoker. I should say that I have never actually done this on my own before I have seen it done, and I have helped, but actually
hiving a swarm of bees on your own is a bit like the first time you drive a car on your own after you have passed your test. It just feel a bit weird not having somewhere
telling you what to do!

I am now though a complete Pucheli Maestor, All bees successfully hived and not one sting!

As I was leaving Halil’s house I was presented with 9 fresh eggs and two fresh tomatoes for my trouble, they know I don’t accept cash as payment only beer or food.

It is still only 12:30 and I feel as though I have done a days work – so decided to take it easy for a while and study up on Turkey’s.

I should point out that my village is completely Turkish, so I shall have some fun come New Year when I tell them I might be killing a ‘Turkey’!

 

Feeding Your Bees

At certain times of the year you may have to feed your bees, either when they have run out
of honey and there is no nectar to collect, or to supplement their stores in autumn after you have robbed their honey.

I use a syrup form but it can be bought in ready made packs or even fondant icing can be used. The syrup is half water to half white sugar. The syrup
is placed in a feeder, I use a plasitc conatiner with some cloth coming out of it which acts as a wick in drawing the syrup up from the conatiner. This stops
the bees falling in and dying. Professional feeders can also be purchased.

Winter Feed

You can make your own feed is solid form by using 500ml of water and 2.5kg of sugar, first bring the water to boil, and slowly add the sugar a little at a time.
When the whole mixture is boiling remove from the heat but continue stirring until the mix begins to thicken. Then pour in to your moulds and allow to cool. Thes are then
ready for use during the winter months. Solid food is much better in the winter months as the bees will prefer to store this rather consume direct. If your bees need
feeding in the early spring when there is not much flora around a syrup mixture is probably best. If you have any left over solids just dissolve this in water to make a syrup.

Where to Locate you Bee Hive

This can be almost anywhere, ideally you want them on a south facing slope, and protected from
the wind. I keep mine close to a hedge, this helps keep the worst of the elements away from the hive.

Things to keep in mind when siting a bee hive:

  • Availability of Water
  • Prevailing Wind
  • Frost Pockets
  • Your Neighbours?

Water

If there is no natural source of water near the location of your hives, a good idea would be to create one, and stop you bees heading to your neighbours
pond. This easily done with a shallow container, allowing landing spaces for the bees to stop them from drowning. The easiest way is place stones in the water
that break the surface, allowing the bees to land and drink freely.

Prevailing Wind

Common sense really, if your bees have to fight against the prevailing wind every time they try to return to the hive they will be spending a lot
of energy doing that rather than making you honey. Try to find a sheltered are out of the wind this will help your bees greatly.

Frost Pockets

If your hive is is a frost pocket it will be later to start working in the spring, the hive will not venture out much until the weather improves in the
spring. Ensuring your hive is located outside a frost pocket will ensure that your bees get straight to work as soon as the weather is right.

Neighbours

Before locating your hives in your garden make sure you speak to your neighbours and let them know, most people don’t mind bees but some are put off due
to the sting that every bee carries around with them. I am fotunate that my nearest neighbours are over 100m away, and they also keep bees. Be considerate
though when placing your hive if your neighbours are not fans. Near a high hedge will ensure that the flight trajectory of your bees will be above head
height.

City Hives

Just ecause you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t keep bees, you may have check loacl regulations though as these differ in every town and city.

Dead Bees

It has come to the end of a busy month for me, I have not posted on here as often as I would have liked and I am afraid that to
end the month on a sad note. My busy bees who have been working their socks off all summer making me wax and honey have gone to the big
hive in the sky!

As I am still a novice when it comes to bee keeping, it came as quite a shock. I have had several expert opinions from neighbours, it appears
everyone here is an expert in hindsight! Opinions vary, from bee flu to the queen flying off and not being replaced. One thing is certain though
before they departed they took all their honey with them. As it is the end of septmeber they will not be able to be replaced until swarming season
next May, so I will have plenty of time to read up to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

The reason I have been so busy this month is not down self reliance either. I have been getting official documents done in Bulgaria so that I
am 100% legal. I will still have to wait the normal 5 years for citizenship etc, but I now have the equivalent of a NI Number and can be employed etc
I am also in the process of having my degree certificate made legal in Bulgaria, I can’t wait until they get it translated as it comes from Swansea Uni and
is half in Welsh!

This month is also the month of getting everything ready for winter, I have had the roof checked, the chimneys swept and am working my way through
chopping a couple of ton of logs. The winter here is only a short one Jan & Feb are the only really cold months, but it really does get quite chilly.
Last year we -15C during the day, just walking to shop and back (150m) and you would be all chattering teeth and what not.

I am also busy tidying up as the better half arrives in 2 days, and it is surprising how much mess a single man can make in 3 months without proper
guidance from experts on house cleanliness!

Basic Beekpeping

Bees really are a gardeners friend. Not only do they make free food in honey, but without their help in pollination there would not be much
left growing in your garden. It is quite possible to keep a hive of bees with absolutely no garden at all. They are just as adept at collecting
pollen and nectar in urban areas as they are in the countryside.

Lots of people may be put off keeping bees due to the fact that all worker bees have a sting which they are not scared to use even though this
will cause their death. Having kept bees for the last two years I have been stung, but this is more down to my own idiocy, rather than any
malice on part of my bees.

Equipment

A hive – most modern hives are made from wood and contain removable frames on which the honey is deposited by the bees. The frames each have a wax
sheet on them, with the hexagonal pattern of honeycomb printed on it. Here is my first bee hive which I bought for 40 Euro’s

My First Bee Hive

And here is one I made for 2!

Homemade Hive

Between the brood chamber and the 2nd floor, I have a “Queen excluder” which prevents the queen from laying eggs in the frames that I am going to steal
honey out of. This is basically a wire mesh with gaps big enough for the workers to pass through, but not the queen.

Protective clothing really is essential, although my friend whom I got my bees from has over 30 hives and has never worn any protective clothing in
over 40 years of bee keeping (he is slightly mad though!)

My removable frames with wax sheets!

Smoke machine – in which you burn cardboard or wood, to simulate the smelll of a forest fire which tricks the bees in to preparing to flee the hive
and so fill up on honey ready to make their escape. When a bee is full of honey they find it very difficult to sting. Don’t use to much smoke though
or they might really flee the fire!

My Smoker!

Honey Extractor – When your frames are filled with honey you want to be able to get it out, an extractor work as a centrifuge and spins the honey out
leaving the frame intact to be re-inserted into the hive and filled once again.

Bees – After you have kitted yourself out you will need some bees, which you can buy off a beekeeper, or hive a swarm if you can find one. I have done both
here is me hiving a swarm

For a comprhensive guide on all bee maters you can do no better than the collins beekeeper’s bible. It covers absolutely everything.

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