Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Please post a new topic introducing yourself, where you are, what you do, your beekeeping experience and what you plan to do in the future.
User avatar
Parsonage Bees
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:22 am
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Parsonage Bees » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:13 pm

Hi,

I live in a small town of about 7,000 people set in an area of intensive agriculture and woodland on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens, on the eastern side of the UK.

I'm a novice beekeeper with just one colony which looks like it has made it through the first winter. They only got going in July after I replaced the drone laying queen with one donated by a member of my local BBKA branch (who treats his bees). They didn't seem to have enough stores at the end of last year so I've been feeding baker's fondant. I've not done an inspection yet this year (13degC/55degF today) Loads of pollen being collected but I'm seeing DWV sufferers with varying degrees of disability either crawling in the grass outside the hive, being evicted or carried away dead. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them.

I'm using second hand standard depth British National boxes but have been busy over the winter building a couple of top bar hives hoping that a swarm comes my way. Time is running out but I'd like to build some 5 frame nucs. I started off in my first hive with foundation but have made up 20 foundationless frames ready for this year. Given the poor health of my bees I guess I must be an optimist!

Thanks . .. Ben

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby moebees » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:26 am

Hi Ben,

Welcome. Glad you could join us.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

User avatar
Nordak
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Nordak » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:09 am

Hello Ben,

Best of luck to you and your bees. Hope they pull through for you.

User avatar
trekmate
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:27 pm
Location: UK, NW England
Contact:

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby trekmate » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:33 am

HI Ben and welcome from t'other side of the Pennines. I've only ever kept bees in top-bar hives. If you need any advice or tip on those I'll be glad to help.

If all goes well you may get a swarm from your other hive. It's stunning how quickly than can build up in the spring in the right conditions.

Good luck!

John

User avatar
SiWolKe
Hobbyist
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:36 am
Location: South Germany

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby SiWolKe » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:53 am

Hi Ben,
I hope your bees will survive but if not, try again!
Welcome to the forum. :)
Civility is strength. http://www.VivaBiene.de

User avatar
Parsonage Bees
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:22 am
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Parsonage Bees » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:14 pm

Thanks all for the welcome.

Hey John (trekmate), I think we've conversed before on another forum where I use 'yellowbelly' (as I can't make my mind up). Don't tell them about the icing sugar!
Thanks for the offer of help with the top bar. Bar width I hear is key. My bars ended up as 32mm which is too narrow so I've a bunch of 6mm shims to make them up to the 38mm recommended by Phil Chandler.

The bees are busy on this overcast drizzly day . . . Ben

User avatar
GregV
Hobbyist
Posts: 500
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:14 pm
Location: self-banned @ (South WI, USA)

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:43 am

Parsonage Bees wrote:My bars ended up as 32mm which is too narrow so I've a bunch of 6mm shims to make them up to the 38mm recommended by Phil Chandler......Ben


Welcome to the forum.

My question: why do you think 32mm (1.25inch) is too wide?

Maybe this is a UK thing as you have much milder climate there (USDA zones 7-10).

Up here I have zone 5(a), forecast night temperatures are -10 -12C for the week ahead, and tomorrow we have a blizzard coming through (that's March 13). I myself, actually, want to switch down to 32mm from 38mm (1.5inch) for few reasons.

User avatar
trekmate
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:27 pm
Location: UK, NW England
Contact:

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby trekmate » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:13 am

GregV - 32mm is too NARROW. Hence the addition of 6mm shims to make up to 38mm, which is a bit more than in framed hives. It's been found that 38mm is best for the brood nest area as with natural comb (no foundation) you'll frequently see drone brood cells facing each other on adjacent combs, which reduces the bee-space between combs and can push new comb off-centre on the top-bar leading to cross-combing with adjacent bars.

Parsonage Bees/Yellowbelly - Yes, we have "met" on the other forum. I'd also prep some shims of around 10mm for use when the combs are used for just honey as these combs will be wider again.

John

User avatar
Parsonage Bees
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:22 am
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Parsonage Bees » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:33 am

Hi GregV,
I had to look up 'zone 5(a)' and have discovered I'm in a zone 8 like much of the rest of the UK (though this winter the minimum temperature was more zone 9). Could be useful on social media when people post videos of their first inspection/bees flying to know their zone.
One bit of advice I've had is that bar width depends on size of your bees as all cells built in proportion. A swarm here will have come from an up-sized foundation frame but bees grown on small-cell foundation or foundationless frames will be happy with narrower bars. You probably know your bees.

Thanks John,
These shims are going to make things awkward. Back to the table saw!

. . . Ben

User avatar
GregV
Hobbyist
Posts: 500
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:14 pm
Location: self-banned @ (South WI, USA)

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:31 pm

trekmate wrote:GregV - 32mm is too NARROW. Hence the addition of 6mm shims to make up to 38mm, which is a bit more than in framed hives. It's been found that 38mm is best for the brood nest area as with natural comb (no foundation) you'll frequently see drone brood cells facing each other on adjacent combs, which reduces the bee-space between combs and can push new comb off-centre on the top-bar leading to cross-combing with adjacent bars.

Parsonage Bees/Yellowbelly - Yes, we have "met" on the other forum. I'd also prep some shims of around 10mm for use when the combs are used for just honey as these combs will be wider again.

John


Well, quoting MB:
Spacing frames 1 1/4" (32mm) has a number of advantages among them:

Less drone comb.
More frames of brood in a box.
More frames of brood can be covered with bees to keep them warm as the layer of bees is only one bee deep instead of two.
According to some research back in the 70's in Russia, there was less Nosema.
It's more natural spacing for smaller cells.
It incites the bees to build smaller cells. The smaller spacing contributes towards them viewing the comb on it as worker comb.

Frequent misconceptions about tighter spacing:

That 1 1/4" (32mm) is only right for Africanized Honey Bees. I've let European Honey Bees build their own comb and they space worker brood comb as small as 1 1/8" (30mm) but typically 1 1/4" (32mm) for the core of the brood nest. Wider at the outside edges when they want drones and even wider when they want to store honey.
That your frames won't be interchangeable with 1 3/8" frames. I interchange them all the time. Many of the historical references above show that people often spaced them tighter in the center and wider on the outside edges. There is nothing stopping you from putting a 1 3/8" (35mm) frame in the middle of 1 1/4" (32mm) frames or vice a versa.
That it simply doesn’t matter. Well, it probably doesn't matter a lot but see the above advantages.


From: http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm

Basically, I myself in USDA zone 5(a), same as MB.
What works for MB, should work for me.
Especially important is another observation that tight spacing is beneficial for small clusters (read - nucs) when overwintering in cold climates.
This narrow spacing maybe less important for UK and Sourthern states of the US since the energy efficiency of the bees maybe less important.

Per my observations (I did two cut-outs last year), in my area feral bees will build very, very tight initial nest when starting in a new empty cavity and have no guidance at all. No guidance is important - any human guidance, in fact, is already a treatment (if to be technical).
This is consistent with 32 mm comb spacing (in fact, maybe even tighter than 32 mm; I was too stupid and missed a chance to measure combs' spacing before cutting into them).

I agree that every bee sub-population has a very custom size (just like people). And so cell sizes should really be custom made per the family - only possible being foundation-less. And so the standard bar width already is suggestive of some human-preconceived size in mind (and also a treatment). But, practically speaking, this is moving into a log-hive domain (unfortunately, log hives are mostly illegal in my locality - though I just might just do it one day anyhow; hahaha... ).

In fact, this applies to a specific family and even to a specific line of bees within family (each family carries several lines of bees at once; this is father-dependent). My own kids (I have three) - all are sized differently, just to illustrate this point.

User avatar
Michael Bush
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 343
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 11:34 am
Location: Nehawka, Nebraska
Contact:

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:23 pm

If you let the bees build what they want for spacing (no frames) it's 32mm on average in the brood nest unless they want to build drone comb. Then it's 35mm. It is never 38mm in the brood nest under any ciccumstances. They only build comb that wide of space for honey storage.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

User avatar
GregV
Hobbyist
Posts: 500
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:14 pm
Location: self-banned @ (South WI, USA)

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:33 pm

trekmate wrote:GregV - 32mm is too NARROW. Hence the addition of 6mm shims to make up to 38mm, which is a bit more than in framed hives. It's been found that 38mm is best for the brood nest area as with natural comb (no foundation) you'll frequently see drone brood cells facing each other on adjacent combs, which reduces the bee-space between combs and can push new comb off-centre on the top-bar leading to cross-combing with adjacent bars......John


Btw, John, do you have a reference to see about this?
I'd like to see it.

It maybe true somewhat for an established, strong hives that have been in place for at least 1-2 seasons and are ready to naturally swarm and grow new queens.

However, for a brand new swarm, the absolute top priority is to establish optimal nest for worker brood generation and prepare for the immediate cold season. I doubt very much that a new swarm concerns itself with raising drones - that would be their least concern.
And so with this in mind, I would also not do 38 mm spacing for newly established hives (again, read - nucs).
Attaching a drawing to illustrate my thinking.
Attachments
NaturalCombSpacing.jpg
NaturalCombSpacing.jpg (41.02 KiB) Viewed 551 times

User avatar
Parsonage Bees
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:22 am
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby Parsonage Bees » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:41 pm

I KNEW there was a reason I cut them to 32mm!!

I've been around this loop before. Someone said talk to your local TBH users and see what bar width works for them and I was referred to that MB page. (I must admit the local guy gave up with TBHs) Earlier I had a quick look at the page again and didn't get past the historical references - but this was before foundation was 'super-sized'? - so I didn't read to the bottom.

We don't have your winter temperatures. I think I've had 2-3 galleries of brood through most of January and February.

. . . . Ben

User avatar
trekmate
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:27 pm
Location: UK, NW England
Contact:

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby trekmate » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:35 am

First, forgive me if I miss anything - it's an age thing! ;)

38mm was decided by experimentation in top-bar hives. A few dozen of us tried various widths of top-bar from 32mm to 42mm (one size per hive) over a couple of seasons and watched for cross-combing (one comb being attached to more than one top-bar). 36mm to 40mm showed the least cross-combing as the colonies expanded. Since switching completely to 38mm spacing I've seen less cross-combing.

Last year, I had a swarm move into the roof-space of a TBH (long story!) and the spacing of what they built was around 37mm on average.

Greg V - The only reference I know of in print is "Balance Beekeeping 1: Building a Top-Bar Hive" by P. J. Chandler. Pages 56 -57 refer to this and also mentions Marc Gatineau (France - runs 300 + modified Warre hives for over 30 years) who uses this spacing. Page 57 mentions Ron Hoskins (UK - http://www.swindonhoneybeeconservation.org.uk/ - actively breeding "hygienic" bees) has observed wild comb spacing of 38 - 42mm.

Relevant text:
My measurements suggested that the average thickness of worker brood comb among my colonies - two cells not quite back- to-back - is around 25-26mm, while individual drone cells can be 2-3mm longer, giving an overall thickness of around 30-31mm. If this comb were on 32mm centres, emerging drones would not be able to get out of their cells! Even on 34mm centres there is insufficient clearance. If we add a comfortable bee space - say 8mm - to our 30mm comb, to allow for workers capping cells, we arrive at 38mm (1 1/2") as a probable dimension for 'perfect' centre-to-centre spacing. All this was theory so far, but then I discovered that Marc Gatineau, who has run 300 Warré hives in France for some 30 years - and who should, therefore, know a thing or two about natural comb and its correct spacing - does in fact use 38mm centres for brood comb in his 8-bars-to-the box Warré hives, which have an internal width of around 300mm (in boxes placed under the colony during the expansion period, by what is known as 'nadiring'). I have also seen this spacing used successfully in horizontal hives, while measurements taken in 2010 at Ron Hosking's apiary in Swindon, from a colony left to build free comb, showed a range of 38-42mm.

My "new colonies" are all from natural swarming - I haven't done a split or artificial swarm or any other type of increase for six years. I use bait hives (and transfer the colony to a full sized TBH) and set up full TBH as bait hive to attract them. I also collect swarms locally as available. i.e. I don't use nuc boxes.

Re your quotes from MB - the first few "advantages" appear to be for those aiming for large colonies for large honey harvests (MB - please correct me if I'm wrong). My aims are bee conservation and I don't take honey. The last couple, driving the bees toward small cell (another treatment?)

In the UK (similar to you, Greg), we have Government employed Bee Inspectors who have the right to check every comb in every hive the know of, hence the importance of finding the ideal spacing for a top-bar hive. IF I wanted to try a log hive, it would have to be hidden (not that I would do such a thing.... honest! :roll: )

Like Ben, I'd guess I'm in zone 8. My bees are local mongrels sourced from local feral stock.

John

User avatar
GregV
Hobbyist
Posts: 500
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:14 pm
Location: self-banned @ (South WI, USA)

Re: Hello from the Fens of Lincolnshire, UK

Postby GregV » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:01 pm

trekmate wrote:First, forgive me if I miss anything - it's an age thing! ;)
38mm was decided by experimentation in top-bar hives. .............
Like Ben, I'd guess I'm in zone 8. My bees are local mongrels sourced from local feral stock.

John


I see; thanks John.

Well, this basically may confirm my thinking (not really original at that) that all bees are different, location by location.
On average, it has been shown the Northerners are larger (and so this push for uniformed small cell maybe a misled effort in that) while the Southerners are smaller (and so the push for uniform smaller cell fits these better). By this same logic, maybe some places, indeed need 38mm bars as preferred. As for me, my bees try to build double-combs on 38mm bars (side by side).

I suppose this is teaching one basic idea - state your geographic location (even down to county level).
Otherwise, most all talks are less useful and will be disagreement most often.

Speaking of log hives - they are great and making a comeback in less regulated Eastern Europe.
I really like what I see and if can manage it, would like to set up a couple logs in some remote, well hidden, locations to keep as unmanaged swarm generators. I found some videos where people literally keep few unmanaged log hives with a single purpose - throw swarms.
Looks great to me.

Few videos:
Here is a whole business about building the logs (tilted designs) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl3Zr-gRy1Q
Here is a cool guy; i like his vertical designs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3saoVdN6gI
Here is good video to look inside a tilted, modern log hive - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv_YYN68kmE
Sorry for this off topic. We do need a separate area for any non-standard hives, logs included.


Return to “Introductions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest