We’ve had squatter bees since they took possession of an improperly stacked hive (which was only there for storage anyway) earlier in the summer, and we’ve been meaning to open up the hive and see what the state of them was for ages. Since yesterday was a lovely, warm autumn day, it seemed the best bet before winter.
The blueberries are also at a particularly picturesque stage, so I thought I’d take this picture. That it includes Elmo’s bum is just a bonus.
Elmo suited up and took the lid off the hive. The first question we wanted to answer was what is the disposition of these bees? You never know with a swarm what you’re going to get, but happily they appear to be very laid back, friendly bees. Elmo even found one crawling on him an hour later, probably having found its way inside his jumper, and it seemed pretty unflustered by the experience.
The colony turned out to inhabit two of the supers in the stack; the bottom super and the brood box were pretty much ignored. There had not been enough frames in there, so the bees had built their own, on the diagonal.
Alec volunteered to wear the other bee gear and they removed the superfluous bits of the stack and added a feeder box on top so we can feed them through the winter. The plan is to try to make sure they’re healthy next summer so we can split the colony and have two hives (one of which we will put across the site where we actually want them) and eventually probably three. But we’ll have to look that up in the book to remind ourselves how to do it.
Meanwhile, Lizzy filled in the trench we’d dug for the new perennial garden with manure and topsoil and we went to the garden centre and came home with some hardy geraniums, irises, cistus, a late-flowering clematis and some other stuff I’m forgetting. I also moved the sweet william from the pots it had been in. Hopefully we can make something not too weedy out of this corner of the site for next spring’s splendour.