BEE INTERESTING

One of the addictive things about beekeeping is how alien bees are. Their social life looks superficially a bit like ours – they live in cities, they co-operate – but are so utterly different in their roots and complexity. Even their genetics are different: drones are haploid which means they only have half the right number of chromosomes; worker bees and queens are diploid, with the full set of chromosomes. It\’s like being able to spy on extraterrestrials.
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Beekeepers, however, are a very friendly bunch and full of tips for anxious beginners like me. The first social meeting of the autumn for the Roseland Beekeeping Group was tonight and I not only got some good advice on what to do about my poor empty hive, how to help the surviving hive and how best to build wasp traps (grrrr), I also had the comfort of hearing that everyone had trouble with wasp nests this year. I wonder why this year in particular? Maybe the cold weather last winter killed something that normally preys on wasps?
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Let\’s find out what it is and cosset and caress it this winter.

BASTARD WASPS

God, I hate wasps. One of my hives was being raided by them on Sunday and had just a few sad bees left – the silly sausages only went and swarmed in August so they just didn\’t have the numbers to fight off the wasps. Also they probably didn\’t get a new queen. May I say that most of the beekeeping books say bees don\’t swarm in August, but it\’s obvious the girls weren\’t reading them.
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This is a constant cause for complaint among beekeepers in the CBKA. There are all these great books about bees around, but the bees just won\’t do their homework and find out what they\’re supposed to do.
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I was very worried about my other hive too, but it turned out I was panicking unnecessarily. Today I went to look again with my incredibly patient bee mentor Mike. It turns out, they had lots of brood, plenty of stores and were vigorously guarding the hive – yay! Kill those evil bastards! Go bees, go!