What goes up has to eventually come down

A couple of years ago I supplied a friend Alex with some bees to populate his TBH positioned on the roof of his flat in Teddington. Nice view, but no good if you are scared of heights. The access was through a small window in his children’s bedroom, out onto a small pitched roof and up to the small flat roof. Up from that roof was another flat roof and beyond that a big drop.

That’s me fitting the mesh floor. The bees are in the national hive and we positioned that on the roof the previous week. The national hive had been altered with internal sloping sides matching the TBH with allocation for three national frames at one end. As the bars for the TBH are the same length of the top bars for a national hive it was easy to fit the top bars into the national hive with a slight alteration to allow for the thicker bars.

tbh on roof

I populated the national hive some weeks before with a nuc I had overwintered. I simply moved three frames and the queen to the hive and shook the remaining bees into the hive. The other frames from the nuc were not wasted and room for them was found in other hives. The bees soon got the idea and started to expand onto the top bars and build lovely comb.

The move went well the bees could be viewed through a small roof light and although tight for Alex to squeeze all 6’3” of himself through a small window inspection were reasonably easy. Unfortunately the first winter was not good for the hive and the bees unfortunately never built up into a strong enough colony and they never made it. So I gave Alex an over wintered TBH nuc in the spring of 2013 and they took off and Alex was able to take some lovely comb honey without leaving the bees short

The bees have overwintered well, but the problem was Alex now had a new job in Cumbria and we had to move the bees. It was a squeeze getting the bees up onto the roof and that was in a national hive, but we were now going to move them in a rather cumbersome TBH. Thankfully, we managed with a bit of brute force and a prayer or two, although it could have gone wrong at any moment.

TBN at garden

The bees and hive are now only four feet off the ground, sitting on a WW2 concrete air raid bunker and have settled in nicely. They are less than one mile from Kew Gardens and loving all the early pollen it has to offer. I just have to manage them now until a time that Alex has a space for them in Cumbria and if we can transport them 280 miles??? I am thinking when I have to AS them I will do this into a national hive, so fun times ahead but right now just enjoying watching them.

I don’t think I would recommend sticking a hive on a roof probably caused more problems in the long run.

ps I don’t rate Alex’s woodworking skills but the bees don’t mind.

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4 Responses to What goes up has to eventually come down

  1. solarbeez says:

    That kind of work of moving a hive off a roof is way above my pay grade. I hate ladders, heights and heavy cumbersome boxes. I’m curious how you managed to get it down, though. Did you lower it with a couple of ropes or ‘man-handle it down?

  2. thomas73640 says:

    Thankfully it involved no ladders or rope and if they were required trust me the hive would still be on the roof. We managed to squeeze the hive through the small window into the flat and then down out through the front door.

  3. The Apiarist says:

    280 miles shouldn’t be a problem … assuming the hive is bee-tight and you choose a reasonably cool day. I’ve often moved colonies over 400 miles, including a long ferry crossing, a journey of perhaps 10 hours. If you do it overnight you’re less likely to be delayed, which wouldn’t be good on a sweltering hot summer afternoon (imagine collapsing melting combs). Take a water mister, strap the hive down tight with the frames the “cold way” with regard to the front of the car and use a travel screen. The bees will be just fine. I’m not sure I’d want to do this with a TBH though …

  4. Pingback: Four years and still counting | Beekeeping afloat

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