Contadina's Blog

Living the contadini life among the olive groves

Did someone say bees? April 26, 2011

Filed under: bees — contadina @ 8:52 am

You may remember how in my last blog I mentioned we were hoping for a wild swarm of bees to fly by? Well, we were eating lunch alfresco on Saturday afternoon when I heard a really loud buzzing drone just over the potato patch.

There were quite a few bees buzzing around there, not unusual as we have a patch of comfrey growing there too, but there weren’t nearly enough bees to warrant the sound.

On closer inspection we found the source; a swarm of bees had formed a ball in one of our smaller olive trees.  As we’ve had a couple of wild swarms build their nests in old olive trees we ran down to get a hive and placed it in their path.

Hanging around waiting for a new home

As dusk was approaching and with rain forecast, the bees were still clustered in a ball, three-metres up the olive tree. So we got a box and a ladder and Jeremy cut the branch of docile and dozing bees into the box and shook them into the hive before they knew what was going on.

Before placing the bees in the hive, we positioned it with it’s entrance facing south-east so the bees will receive the early morning sun, it will also, hopefully, help prevent them building cross-combs. We also placed the hive between two small trees, so we can hang shade over the hive during the height of summer, as it gets so hot here it can melt their comb, which will be especially fragile when new.

Happily re-homed

Bees all inside, we replaced the lid and left them to their own devices. Two days later, the hive  is abuzz with activity, so it looks like they’ve decided to stay.

For anyone else interested in keeping bees, I’d thoroughly recommend checking out a more natural approach to beekeeping, using top bar hives, as seen above. Unlike beekeeping using Langstroth hives, this is minimal interference beekeeping without the use of chemicals.

For further information, I’d recommend reading the Barefoot Beekeepers book available at both in PDF form  or in hard copy via Amazon. The biobees site also has free instructions on how to build your own top bar hive as well as a friendly and helpful forum. Another site worth checking is – a charity founded to conserve and protect bees, and promote natural beekeeping methods.

In other news, today is our fifth anniversary of living la vita bella, so we’ll be heading into town for a celebratory lunch later. It’s also, by default, Govanne’s ninth birthday (he came with the house and having spent his first four years living in a small caged area, when we first moved in, we decided today should be his birthday as it was the day he gained his freedom). A more loyal and happy hound you are unlikely to find. He makes a pretty good chief of security too, so happy birthday, big fella.

Teaching Govanne how to play five years ago


5 Responses to “Did someone say bees?”

  1. Mike Says:

    How great that you were able to procure a hive like that…really neat. Looks like you picked out an excellent location for them, look at all those wild flowers.:)

  2. contadina Says:

    It’s up to the bees to get busy now as not much flowers here in the summer months. I was quite heartened to find the old picture of Govanne though as it shows how much the garden has flowered over the past five years. 🙂

  3. How wonderful…..lovely anniversary pressy for you both too.
    We’re hoping to lure some bees to one of the hives we just bought, using a method suggested by someone (old brood comb and some lemongrass oil). We have masses of bumble bees here and there is a large heathery sssi less than a mile away, so maybe a passing swarm will take a fancy to us.
    I’ll be picking your brains then 😉

  4. contadina Says:

    Good luck Julie. We used some old brood comb too. Just listen out for them, would be my first piece of advice (investigate every continual buzzing sound).

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