The Beginners’ Practicals carry on through the summer right through to September, and are an important part of the training course - thought to be one of the best run in the West Midlands. Having hands-on experience before you get your own bees is very important and makes sure you are capable of dealing with the different situations you can find inside a hive.


Food of the Gods

Finally it was here, the night we had all been waiting for, we were going to extract honey. In the hall were familiar faces all eager to get started, excited to find out how best to reap the fruits of their labour. First Phil and Brian (our beekeeping gurus) talked us through different methods of excluding bees from the supers and showed us a selection of the various gadgets and gizmos available to help you harvest honey, some of which were owned by MUBK and available to book. We used a refractometer to test whether the honey had the right water content and were shown a more basic test that would suit those of us more prone to techno-fear. As it had been unusual weather through the season the training hives were not full enough to use in the session so MUBK members Bill and Liz kindly offered to let us practice with their honey. Brian showed us how to break the wax seal with an uncapping fork and place the frames into the extractor, then it was our turn to be let loose! With latex gloves and plastic aprons on we went about the sticky business of uncapping frames. Each of us had a turn working the extractor (which was surprisingly easy to spin) and watching the honey accumulate. We were shown how cut comb and talked through the different ways of storing the honey. It didn’t take long for us to start “sampling” the product.. one hive had produced pale, herbal tasting honey while the other honey was much darker and more treacle like - both were absolutely delicious! Once again it struck me how fortunate we are to have experienced beekeepers willing to give up their time (and some of their hard earned honey) to pass on their knowledge and experience to newcomers. After having a go I can’t wait to harvest my own honey next year! 

08/06  This was a great evening as everyone saw a Queen, brood in all stages, eggs, queen cells and play cups. Most had a chance to lift out a frame and inspect it. Later in the evening, Steve Carrott turned up with the first swarm of the season and we loaded it into the new Flow Hive for Bill. It is one of the wonders of the natural world seeing the bees walking 4 or 5 deep up the slope into the hive. As is becoming traditional we all reluctantly went to the pub afterwards to talk over what we had done.
01/05 This was a very cold evening and a joint event with Improvers. We started to look at how to deal with swarms and huddled in the barn, once it started to rain too hard. Bill showed us his new Flow Hive and explained how it is supposed to work, and we will watch it with interest as the season develops
28/04 We did pretty well at the first practical session. It stayed just warm enough to open the hives and we were all able to have a good look through the bees.  They appear to be well advanced for the time of year and, the ones inspected were quite strong.
We saw worker bees; drones; and I think everyone who attended saw at least one queen; larvae; eggs; good brood pattern; brace comb; propolis; some evidence of deformed wing; wax moth larvae; open worker cells; open drone cells; capped worker cells; capped drone cells; bees fanning; and we saw open queen cells.  Not bad for the first practical session!
 21/04  Thursday saw the first of the beginners practical sessions and approx 16 turned out for their first taste of opening a beehive. The evening, led by Keren, Geoff and Brian was a great success with quite a number retiring to the pub to talk bees afterwards. On highlight of the evening was Geoff finding the Queen on the hive he was inspecting - a rare treat for the Queen!




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