Are You A Social Bee Or Solitary Bee?

Are You A Social Bee Or Solitary Bee?

Confession. After a day with my wife, my toddler and my four month old son, I sometimes feel an incredible urge to do a bee inspection. After dealing with Peppa Pig, a newborn crying and my wife’s ‘helpful feedback’, the sound of 50,000 buzzing bees suddenly seems like calming silence.

And I wonder how many of us are attracted to beekeeping, not simply because it gets us back to nature or because we relish the challenge of making our own honey, but because this is a hobby which is a solitary one?

Do you prefer your own company or the company of others? Do you get advice from books or phone a friend? Do you stay in and relax or attend local beekeeper association meetings (or perhaps you’re just too busy)? Do you learn about beekeeping by yourself or as part of a study group?

I’m interested if readers of this blog are more like social bees or solitary bees.

Are you a social bee or solitary bee?

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Please comment further below.

On being a Dad

And now, the questions you have all been asking.

Q. How is it being a Dad?

A. It’s alright!  It’s pretty good.  (Heidi – this is an understatement, I just don’t want to tell everyone how brilliant it is)

Q. What’s your role as the Man Of The House?

A. Hmmmm.  Good question.  It seems to be cooking, cleaning, shopping, winding.  When it gets too much, I sometimes go into the garage to build beehive parts.  I would describe myself as Man In The House, rather than Of.

Q. How are you getting on with all the blokey, technical stuff, like sorting out the pram?

A.  I can’t talk about the pram.  It brings me out in cold sweats.  OK, I can talk about the pram [fakes a deep breath].   It takes me about 20 minutes to either fold it up to put in the car, and the same time to take it out of the car and put it up.  Each time I go through this process (which has been twice now), something breaks as I force it into position.  I don’t think my baby girl’s life is in immediate danger in the pram, it still seems to work OK.  Each time I go through the process of collapsing and reassembling the pram, I have no idea how I got from A to B or B to A.  The pram is currently in a collapsed state in the garage.  Last time I went into town I didn’t have time* to work out how to use the papoose (baby carrier) so I carried Senen over my shoulder, in a manly way, like a sack of potatoes.

* When I say I didn’t have enough time … 30 minutes seemed plenty at the time, but it was not enough.

Q. And what is your role with the other gadgets like the breast bump and 2-way intercom?

A. I’ve delegated them to Heidi.  I can’t look at one more set of instructions – unless someone comes round and shows me how these things work.  The man doesn’t have to be in charge of all gadgets, does he?  I am choosing to be a New Man in this area.  No one needs to know.

Q.  How do you feel walking around town pushing a pram?

A.  Have you ever seen My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?  A man’s relationship with a pram is complex.  It’s a bit like asking me how would I feel wearing a handbag or a dress or using one of those shopping trolleys that older people take to the shops?  There’s nothing wrong with it.  It’s practical.  It’s just that, errr, it does not fit comfortably with my self-image of Being A Man.  I prefer the baby carrier, but that does not fit my self-image of Being A Man either.  I’m looking forward to carrying her on my shoulders.

If you are wondering where all these male insecurities started, you might like to read I Am Not A Beeman or if you like the Dad theme, try It’s A Girl or Proud Dad.

Proud Dad

Like a proud Dad, I can announce that there are larvae in both beehives*.  Absolutely, definitely this time. You can see the larvae curled up in the first photo below and you can also see some larvae that have been capped in the second photo (bottom left) … beautiful.

uncapped honeybee brood


proud dad

Like any new born, they don’t look pretty but you’ve got to think long term. In about 21 days these little grubs will reach puberty and then fly the nest (only in this case, I won’t need to fork out for tuition fees).

Having essentially ‘fathered’ these hives, I experienced intense relief, which lasted about 5 seconds, and some joy, which lasted about 3½ hours.  However this joy was quickly replaced by newly developed worries; timescales I suspect most new-Dads can appreciate.

Like two small children – my hives already have distinct personalities …

Beehive A – ‘the late developer’

Now this one had me worried. I had adopted Beehive A and so I couldn’t be sure of anything and as soon as I got it, it went off the rails and swarmed.  Seven weeks later, the colony has settled down in its home and despite keeping me on my toes with little evidence of a Queen, nature has come good and I’m very proud.

Beehive B – ‘the productive protégé’

These amazing bees have drawn out 9 of the 11 frames (in a 14×12 brood box).  The sugar syrup I fed them has done the job.  There were cells containing brood and some capped honey around the edges.  Very pleased.

Of course, with both hives, come worries…and my main one is whether they will produce any honey.

Worker bees take 21 days from egg until they hatch.  They then spend their first 18 days on jobs in the hive.  We’re looking at the end of July before these bees start foraging but the second main nectar flow finishes about then too.  Let’s hope there is some nectar and pollen for the bees to collect in August.

I also saw a moth during my “inspection” but at the time I didn’t consider it due to my usual panic.  However, I am now a bit worried that it might have been a wax moth.  I will look out for this next time I go in.

I need advice. Perhaps a little fatherly pep talk from more experienced beekeepers who know more than me?

  • Should I remove a super from the old hive (so they can cap more of the current honey in the first super)?
  • Should I add a super to the new hive or let them draw out more brood frame?
  • Should I feed the new hive again due to all this poor weather?

Let me know if you know!

* I should also probably tell you that the 20 week scan my wife and I went to this week shows that we are probably going to have a baby girl.  Hurrah!

Postscript: You might want to read It’s A Girl.