The package bees I purchased did not have the queen I originally ordered due to poor weather conditions and shortages. The supplier was ‘forced’ to import Italian queens from Australia. So instead of the dark bees I wanted my first hive was populated by golden Italian bees (they look a little like wasps to the untrained eye). The swarm I caught for my second hive consisted of Italian mongrels slightly darker but still quite clearly of Italian origin.
I always wanted to keep the North European (British) dark bee apis mellifera mellifera. So I broke my own rule, (Hypocrite!) And purchased two imported Apis Mellifera Mellifera (AMM) queens from Bickerstaffs, who have just recently started breeding Apis M M at their bee farm in Greece.
The new queens arrived safe and sound in the post. They were in plastic shipping /introduction cages with about five attendants each. I put them in a cool dark place and left them in peace.
I had to wait until late afternoon of the day they arrived before I could open my hives. The weather was very changeable and I needed a reasonable period of bright weather. I was beginning to get concerned; the forecast was awful, rain and wind for the next twenty-four hours when luck would have it there was a break in the clouds.
I suited up, lit my smoker and opened my hive No2 (the swarm hive). Much to my surprise I found the old queen easily she was on the third comb I lifted. I had worn thin rubber gloves instead of my usual leather beekeeping gauntlets. I was therefore able to pick her off the comb without too much trouble. I put the comb back in the hive, carried her away and killed her. (I felt a heel doing it and unfortunately so did she! ) I put the lid back on the hive and left them to it.
Finding the queen so easily gave me the confidence to tackle my No 1 hive which had twice as many combs and bees. I lifted the lid gave them a good smoking and started to lift the bars. This time the queen was on the fourth comb, I removed the whole comb, another with brood and a third with stores all complete with their bees. I put them into my third hive with two blank top bars and a litre of syrup. Hopefully they will build up enough to last through the winter.
I left the two hives queenless for twenty-four hours then wired the Apis M M queens in their travel cages to two top bars. I remembered to remove the plastic covers to reveal the fondant plugs. The fondant ensures a slow release as the bees have to eat through it before the queens can escape. This gives time for the queen to get the hive scent and the bees to get used to her.
I opened each hive in turn this time I sprayed them with diluted syrup mixed with a little vanilla instead of smoke. It would keep the bees occupied while I inserted the top bar with the new queen and also mask any scents so they will not notice anything strange when the hive is closed up with the new queen.
I have two more days to wait before I can check the queens have been released. Fingers crossed they are accepted. If they are then I will have two hives with Apis MM. I will re queen the other hive next spring with an Apis MM queen.
I have not noticed any beehives near where I live and if there are then as most conventional beekeepers cull their drones I hope I can keep my stock reasonably pure over the subsequent years, time will tell.
The last month has been pretty busy and I have to admit to rather neglecting this blog. Guardian Generations is now available in limited numbers exclusively from my Guardian Sci Fi website. It will not be on general release for another month or so therefore if you are quick you can get an exclusive, dated pre-release first edition. You never know it might be worth something one day
I have been working on the book website to reflect the publication of Generations. Instead of the ‘Look Inside’ page which used a small flash program to turn the pages of a virtual first chapter I have used Google books and linked to them from my website. The advantage is they show random sections of each book. I have limited it to 20% but it is far better than just one chapter. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.
It has become time to renew my clive.uk.com domain name and it has doubled in price! I have to say I was a little annoyed but as it is an established website listed on Google etc., I had no choice but to pay up. I have purchased www.cliveosbornerapley.com so I will slowly build that domain name up and eventually shut down the clive.uk.com. I don’t want to be caught like that again.
I have also changed the domain name of my publishing website to reflect the content. The original was www.partnership-publishing.com . It was initially designed to discuss that method of book publishing but it has subsequently evolved to discuss all aspects of publishing a book. The new name is www.publishingoptions.info. The original name will be active for the next six months to ensure the new one is fully Google listed and linked too.
If you have bookmarked either site please remember to update to the new domain name.
I am currently in Scotland so I will be picking up book three once things have settled down here.
Book three word count 9000