The New Home Apiary

Plans the for current apiary space mean that this year my hives must move. Next to the hives I took over this year (on a bit of land belonging to a neighbouring farmer) we have a scabby patch of ground covered in ivy, nettles and brambles where a few stunted trees grow (thanks to shading by a couple of sycamore trees that have rotting trunks and are generally in a bit of a sorry state). I have decided that this area should be my new apiary. It also has the advantage of only being accessible through a narrow passageway between two walls and is a dead end, so I can put a gate on it and we shouldn’t have any visitors accidentally wandering through without realising what’s there.

The first job was to get rid of a load of the ivy and sycamore. The latter turned out to be a fun job given that some of the trunks were leaning in a direction they could not be allowed to fall. In the end I chainsawed chunks out of the trunk on the “high” side and used a chain lift and ropes to winch the tree to fall in a more suitable direction. The decent timber was chopped up and set aside to dry for next winter’s logs and the rest left in a pile to have a bonfire with. I’ve promised myself that every tree I cut down will be replaced with another, so I’ve ordered a selection of fruit trees and nut trees to arrive next month to plant around the new apiary. I’ve planted about thirty or forty trees since we got here and barely removed a dozen, so I’m well ahead of the game so far.

With the big trees out of the way and the rotting elder and ivy cleared from a large enough area we found a tree that we think is a Bullace, though this late in the year it’s hard to tell from the shrivelled fruit remaining on the tree. I’ll prune it back and keep it for the time being. Now it has some decent light it might well grow better.

The ground slopes slightly, so the next step was to get the digger in and level some ground for a shed to keep my bee suit and bulky stuff such as foundation and frames in. I intend to terrace the entire area once it is clear, having the hives on the lower levels. If necessary I might also make a shelter for storing empty hives in, but that’s a way off yet.

Screwfix were handily offering a fair percentage off some sheds late in 2011 so I bought one and it was duly delivered a couple of weeks later. The lorry driver’s satnav got him lost, and then he got stuck in the field and I had to tow him out with the tractor. I’m not sure I dare order anything else from them 🙂

I’ve now assembled the shed and stood it on blocks to keep it out of the damp, though there’s a bit of flex in the floor. I might have to push some more blocks underneath when the ground dries out a bit.

This first photo shows the levelled area ground with the new shed. The hives in the background are the ones I took over last Autumn and will be moving either to out apiaries or to this new area once it is complete.

This one is the area still to clear. The tree on the far left is a hazel which I intend to coppice. The pollen will be useful to the bees in the early Spring. Immediately in front of it and slightly to the right is the tree I believe to be the bullace.

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