The appearance of the dandelions, which began a few weeks ago, is the cue to think about the “spring expansion” of our Warré bee hives. Last week’s warm sunny weather was the ideal opportunity to carry out the work. Here is Phil and his beekeeping assistant, wheelbarrow loaded and ready to go.
In Warré hives, expansion is carried out by placing empty boxes underneath the existing boxes of the hive – nadiring. This gives the bees extra space in which to build comb and expand the colony as the spring build up of numbers progresses.
With the mild winter and reasonably early spring a couple of the colonies were already fully occupying their existing boxes. While Phil lifts the hive, his assistant takes an empty box and places it on the hive floor. The remaining boxes of the hive are then put back on top, all with minimal disturbance to the bees.
To fuel the spring increase in activity bees dilute honey stores with water so they can be consumed . Bees do have a rather odd taste in drinking water though! Many gather water from around the cow house which is heavily flavoured with cow dung, or from pots of compost around the polytunnel. These bees are delighting in the water in a bucket of rotting garden weeds! Dozens can be seen here when the sun is shining.