Question: What does a beekeeper do when the weather is awful?
Answer: The same as anyone else - he/she goes shopping!
In just a matter of days the 'false Spring' has disappeared and the temperatures have plummeted from 21c to 6c, and the rain clouds appear to have taken up residence over our garden. The bees have beaten a hasty retreat and are clustered once again in their hives, sending out messages that they'd really appreciate some more sugar syrup in the feeders, please. Having cleaned all the equipment and made our plans to manage swarm behaviour, there was only one other thing to do: buy some more hives ready for all the new colonies we'll hopefully have in a couple of months.
Given that our bees have come through the winter, and are growing quickly (all the pollen being carried in when the sun was shining means that in all likelihood the queens are laying), we will be splitting the colonies and raising new queens in April. We therefore need somewhere for them to live!
Kevin spent several hours researching all the companies who provide hives, complete or in kit form, and narrowed down the choice to a couple of competitively priced firms. Then we had to sit down and take a deep breath when we looked at the delivery charges. Ok, hives are heavy but seriously, that much to bring them to us?! We worked out that we may as well travel to collect them ourselves and so earlier this week when "il pleut comme vache qui pisse" (polite translation: raining cats and dogs...!) we set off on the 2-hour drive to a supplier near Poitiers, and bought what we could fit in the car. As you can see from the photo above, we got a lot in - four complete hives: brood boxes, floors, supers, crown boards and roofs...now we just have to paint them ready for their new residents. Luckily my parents are visiting next week - guess what jobs we have in store for them?!