I finally went up with Max to look at the bees that have taken over some abandoned hives in a neighbour’s garden. The hives themselves are fairly rotten although one of them might be usable for this season and another brood box in fairly good condition was lying next to them (fairly good is a relative term – it’s fairly good next to the one that is crumbling!) But inside these abandoned hives the bees have been busy constructing honeycombs wherever they can.
The two colonies have clearly been there for a while and look strong and healthy. They are far enough away from our own hives that there is no risk of cross-contamination if there are any diseases lurking around. Each time we come back I soak the hive tools and the gloves in a bleach solution.
All we have to do now is transfer the honeycombs into frames and then into a hive in better condition. I think we have a fifty-fifty chance of being successful – as usual, it all depends on the queen being transferred and we are unlikely to know this for sure for some time.
But there was a bonus today. Some of the honeycombs were stuck to the roof of the hive and we took the opportunity to take some of this away with us. Honey in the comb was part of my childhood but you don’t find it very often nowadays. It’s harder for the bees to produce as they have to build the fresh comb as well as fill it with honey but I suspect too that people just don’t like eating wax with their honey and there is very little demand. I usually put four small frames (which fit into one normal size superframe) into each hive after the OSR honey has been taken off and we keep it carefully for people we know appreciate it.
But today’s honeycomb doesn’t come neatly packaged:
Just dripping in golden goodness.