Wednesday, 27 September 2017

United we stand

In the past week I have managed to reduce from seven hives to four by doing three unitings.  Like most beekeepers I use the newspaper technique and unlike my experience in the summer, all seems to have gone according to plan.  I use the Daily Torygraph, mainly because it is a broadsheet so it covers the hive with one sheet but also because it is free in Waitrose.  I don't think it matters which paper is used but Rusty says the bees get upset if they get to the end of the column to find it says "continued on page 6" when they haven't got page 6. I usually find a page with a picture of Donald Trump and let them chew through that.

I don't put any holes in the paper but the bees usually get through it within 24 hours.  You can tell they are through when bits of paper appear in front of the hive but it is also great fun to listen outside the hive and hear hundreds of pairs of mandibles chewing the paper.  This is how it looks inside but the bees will usually remove every last piece of newspaper.

I also enjoyed watching bees emerging from the hive with a piece of paper larger than a postage stamp and carrying it right over the house.  I'm not sure why they don't just dump it outside with the rest - maybe they don't like Donald Trump.  Here are a few bees struggling with a bit of paper which has got stuck on a blob of propolis.

And here is one very tidy bee determined to get rid of this piece.


  1. Wow, the sound of hundreds of mandibles chewing through newspaper! Never had that pleasure. The thought of bee poo landing on the Donald makes me smile though.

  2. Hi Christopher, so do you overwinter on double brood boxes or in some way reduce the number of frames into one box? I am in the same position wanting to unite for winter but have never done it before. Thanks

    1. Last winter I overwintered three colonies in double brood and one in single brood and it worked out well. This year I'm planning that all four will be in double brood, probably with fewer than 11 frames per box. Last time I used extra insulation in the sides - effectively thick insulated dummy boards either side - and only 9 frames per box. Previously when they have overwintered as brood and a half they have always ended up with brood in the super as well, whether it was below or on top, so I have given that up.