Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I've got all the hives rearranged on proper stands now. The swarm checks out as 'near-native', meaning that most of its characteristics are those of native UK bees, but there's a bit of a discrepancy here and there. In this case, the bees are very slightly banded, and the body hairs are too short. The bands are brown rather than yellow, and, importantly, the characteristics are consistent, being the same in every individual bee. That's close enough to a native stock to be worth keeping. I still need to check out the new colonies - a lot of the bees have yellow bands, indicating hybridisation, but that doesn't necessarily mean the other characteristics aren't right. Then I need to watch them next summer and see if they're showing signs of mite resistance.

My own strain detect mites in capped brood, open the cells, and clean out the larvae with the mites. Some strains groom the mites off each other, and damage them in the process. These aren't characteristics you want to lose through careless breeding!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I'm annoyed with myself. I had a look at the bees yesterday, and the small swarm (hive 1) has died out, apparently of starvation. I meant to get some candy on them to see them through, but I've been feeling so poorly I didn't get it done. It shows how much harm a couple of really bad summers can do; normally, there would be plenty of frames of honey to go round.

I had a close look at some of the bodies, and even after several generations, they still check out with all the characteristics of native bees. That, at least is good. I had expected to find more hybridisation, as with only a few hives, they can easily be influenced by genes from other local drones. either the queens mate selectively, or more likely, they consistently mate with drones from my own hives, without going further afield.

The next thing is to check out the bigger swarm (Hive 3). Superficially, they're rather browner then my own strain, but they do look like natives, or something reasonably close to it. A close look at the morphometry would settle that. It's a nice colony, and it works extremely well in cold weather, so I'm inclined to raise a couple of queens from it if it comes through the winter. But I do want to keep as near to a native strain as I can reasonably manage.

I've put one of the new colonies on the stand where Hive 1 was, and I've made a new stand - it's just a couple of breezeblocks on a paving slab. I need to organise a second one, then I've got all six onto permanent stands, out of the way, and safe from floods and rising damp.
The Pope makes me sick. He's not fit to be called 'Pope', the name means 'father', and he acts like the abusive sort. He labels and entire category of people (gays), good, bad and indifferent, and treats them like some sort of major existential threat. Maybe they are to his cosy fantasy world, but the rest of us live in reality.

What about warlords (I knew one, and it left me loathing the breed), greedy bankers and hedge fund managers, arms dealers, brutal dictators, lying politicians, and all the rest of the filthy crew who do the real damage? I suppose they're a more dangerous target to aim at; if you do, you have to start asking awkward questions.

I'm not sure religious escapism isn't as damaging as any of the above. It distracts people from real problems and real evils, tells them they're OK when they aren't, and offers the wicked a smokescreen. The church - the whole church, not just the RC's - needs to grow up and start dealing with the real world as a whole, instead of leaving the job to the few, while so many go on with the same shallow platitudes. As a member thereof, I'm entitled to be critical!

Monday, 8 December 2008

I got a new power supply unit installed in my main computer, only to find there are still problems. I think it's going to need a new motherboard at this rate. So I'm still stuck with the laptop. I haven't been well for a couple of weeks either, and between that and the weather, nothing's been happening at the allotment. The soil's frozen solid for one thing.

But I did get some new bees over the weekend. I got the monthly Association newsletter a few days ago, and there were a couple of colonies going free, a mile or so away. So I got in touch, and we moved them yesterday afternoon. The first one was very quiet, and not a bee emerged even when the floor came loose whle we were moving it. the second was totally different, they were mad at us, and came boiling out when I opened the hive at my end. I got a couple of stings today just taking the screenboard off the top.

I think the big difference is that the first is a small cluster, at the top of a double broodbox. So they had a long way to go to the entrance, and there weren't that many of them. the second is a much bigger cluster, with a lot more bees, in a single National broodbox. These are quite small, and as a result the bees are close to the entrance.

But they're sorted now. I've got to do an oxalic acid treatment shortly, then put candy on as a winter feed, since they're all so light. After that, it's just a matter of seeing how many are still alive next spring. Hopefully, it'll come a bit earlier than last year, as such a long winter followed by a dismal summer is rough on everything.