Beekeeper diary: new year, new honey bees

2017: we decided in the New Year to invest in some new hives, book on some courses and to immerse ourselves more in beekeeping.

One piece of sage advice is: to get good at beekeeping, you need to have more equipment to grow your colony.  That means: more hives, more supers (supers are the shallower boxes that sit on top of the brood box – the supers help provide essential room for a growing colony, they help with swarm control and it is where the surplus honey for beekeepers can be harvested).

We purchased new hives from Simon the Beekeeper.  Our first hive was a beautiful cedar national hive, now well-worn, but still functional (and looks lovely too).  We have just located one of our new hives on another farm and will post an update once we have established our bees there.  Our new hives are called National Density Polyhives and are less expensive and thought to be healthier for bees as they offer good protection, so we wanted to try them out.  Mike has been busy painting them and putting the frames together in readiness.

Back to our first hive on the farm nearby.  This is our second Spring as beekeepers and still we have lots to learn.  We had extremely warm weather this Spring and it has created some early swarms.  A couple of weeks ago our mentor, Jeff, said he left the lid off our hive to see if we could attract a swarm.  We decided to stop by today to see how the hives (our hive as well as Jeff”s) were doing.  We had no intention of opening the hives as it’s too cold (around 15 degrees).

We were delighted to see activity around our hive, with honey bees flying in and out.  We placed the entrance reducer back on the front to narrow the entrance and stayed for a few minutes to make sure the bees could still find their way in and out (which they did).  The entrance reducer is a strip of wood that is designed to allow the bees access, and keep larger creatures out (such as mice, lovely as they are, there is no place for them in our hives thank-you!).  It’s also import as it helps the bees who act as gatekeepers, a greater chance of protecting the hive from wasps and bees from other colonies who might want to rob honey.

 

Seeing the new honey bees residents in our hive is brilliant!  Nature doing what it does.  Let’s hope they stay. We will leave the hive and check on it over the next few weeks, when the weather is warmer and allows.

When the sun came out, more bees came out of the hive and they burst into activity.  One of the neighbouring hives is particularly active. This produced a lot of honey at the end of the summer last year – gorgeous wildflower and lime tree honey.

Without doubt, another of the great things about beekeeping is the beautiful scenery.  Walking through the fields, even on a cool Spring day, is stunning.  Here is a shot of the village church from the location of the bees, I wonder if they use the church spire as a way to navigate their way to their favourite flowering nectar?

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