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Hivemaker. 

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No...not forum member Heather,but ling heather.....now in bud and large area's in full flower around here,early this year, which i find mildly amusing when all the bods from god knows where start dumping there hives in the most windswept places they can find, on or around the second week in august,then wonder why they don't get much honey.......wonder if it could be because its gone past its best,and the locations some choose are crap.
 
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Poly Hive 

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Traditionally the start date is 12th August of "Glorious 12th"

Often I have had the hives cleared off and ready for home by that time, and then listened at the honey show to stories of no heather this year at all.

My "puckle" sitting in umpteen buckets..LOL

Heather tips.

Burnt moor. Means lots of young heather which I found produced better.

Bracken: denotes shelter.

A bee farmer told me to look for juniper as he found it denoted a good site.

Move bees add two supers and exercise some patience.

Warning. Bees on heather can and often are VERY tempermental, bear this in mind when considering sites. Stung passers bye make for unhappy game keepers / land owners.

PH
 

hoomin_erra 

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Can't wait. I move to one of those windswept locations in 2 weeks, and the bees are coming with!!!
 

Foxylad 

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Would a smaller colony expand quicker if taken to the heather?

Would it be easier for them to produce cells and there for more space for brood if there is a very large pollen and nectar source right outside the hive?

I am in the luck position to have a grouse moor around a 1 mile from my house. But could move the bees anywhere upto 5 miles. I know the 3 mile rule and have a sheltered place around 3 miles away.
 

Poly Hive 

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The heather is no place for a small colony and no they will not build up on it.

Ever see a moor at dawn or early morning and admired the spiders webs?

The death rate amongst bees on heather is massive.

No please for a nuc that is trying to grow up. Keep them at home and feed if you have to.

PH
 

Foxylad 

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Thanks Poly, will be leaving two at home this year.
 

Poly Hive 

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should read no place...

Further Heather does not extract in radial machines and is in fact a jelly which requires to be agitated before it will extract tangentially which is why some use pressure to deal with it or go for comb honey.

PH
 

shonabee 

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I've frequently read that there's no point in taking anything other than a big colony to the heather, but have never known why - I guessed that it wasn't considered worth the hassle of moving them. Thanks for the explanation PH!
 
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You need strong colonies for heather but also a brood chamber stuffed with brood. Some beekeepers add frames of brood from other colonies in order to achieve this result. The danger is the bees will otherwise put what heather they collect in the brood chamber and not in the supers. This is why another tip is to put the sealed brood in the centre of the brood chamber and the unsealed at the outside. The idea is the bees will be reluctant to store honey in the centre and the unsealed brood will stay as brood for most of the time they are on the heather. You can also site a nuc near the hive going to the heather and take it away on a fine day just before the trip. This is to try and stuff the hive with extra foragers.

I have tried all these methods and still got nothing - but that was mostly due to poor weather plus no doubt my own bad beekeeping. They say one in 3 is a good heather year but it varies enourmously over the country. Much heather is not managed, Dartmoor is no where near what it used to be due to the lack of burning and expansion of bracken. The lack of burning also allows the heather beetle to flourish and this has killed off a lot of heather.
 

Gillybee 

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I envy you guys who can put bees on heather, as I live in Lincolnshire so no sites near me unless someone can direct me to a nearby site willing to travel a little way if necessary.

Gillybee!
 

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