Shortly after posting my last blog I had an email from Robert Bell of Cornwall Honey who commented on the design of my hives. He had an issue with the hive entrances being in the side of the hive as per the Chandler design. His Cornish TBH design has end entrances. His argument was the Chandler design is apparently more or less a direct copy of the African TBH, which is fine for Africa. ‘Warm way’ entrances (perpendicular to the comb as opposed to ‘cold way’ which are in line with the comb) are preferable, if not a necessity, in cold or temperate climates such as UK to avoid the possibility of isolation starvation. He also said It should be noted that it is the colony’s instinct, in a horizontal cavity, to store at the rear of the nest, not on both sides which is an enforced response. He recommended I should read R. Ribband, Social Behavior of Honeybees and Wedmore, The Ventilation of Beehives amongst others.
In response to his mail I replied that I too was a little concerned about expanding the hive in two directions. (I do know a little about bees as my father kept them for many years using Langstroths)
I did however like the idea of being able to gain access to both ends of the colony by just removing follower boards. I told him I thought his design of expanding in one direction was better than having the colony in the middle of the hive. So I though I would try a compromise. My entrances are close to one end just giving me enough space to put a follower with a fitted entrance type feeder. (The feeder is then inside the hive but can still be replenished without disturbing the bees). I would leave them plenty of their own honey for the winter. The feeder being there as a spring boost and for any unexpected early shortages of nectar.
I intended to expand the hive in one direction away from the entrance end and leave the follower at the entrance end in the same position. I could then remove it to inspect that end of the colony if I needed to. In effect the hive is a combination, taking what I thought were the best features his and Chandlers designs. For the winter I would block off all but one entrance and the hive will be in a sheltered position away from any wind so I was hoping the disadvantage of a ‘Cold Way’ entrance would be outweighed by being able to inspect from both ends minimizing disturbance.
Once the two hives were completed I put them in place at the bottom of the wood, which would be about 200ft from the house. Far enough away to avoid any problem with the neighbours should there be a swarm (I hope). I will try and manage the hives to prevent the bees from swarming but they are after all unpredictable wild creatures and accidents happen.
The wood slopes away from the house so I had to block the hives to ensure they were level. As can be seen from the pictures below I also painted the hives different colours to prevent ‘drift’ (where the bees go to the wrong hive) They are also about 40 feet apart so I should not have any problem.
There does not seem to be much consensus as to the direction the hives should be facing so I discussed it with my Father and decided to place them so the entrances faced east. The theory being the hives will be warmed by the morning sun encouraging the bees out early.
I placed swarm lures in both hives in the off chance they might attract a passing swarm however It is many years since I have seen a swarm of bees so it is probably a waste of time. The lures were only £5 from ebay so it was worth a try. The package bees I have ordered will be ready early in May. With everything ready for them I can’t wait!
No news on Guardian Generations yet however as I am currently in Scotland on holiday I can get on with book three.