17/08/2019 Apiary Blog UpdateThe summer has gone well, the trainees have had lots to do and have covered most of the usual beekeeping procedures, hiving swarms, artificial swarming, brood amalgamating, brood equalising, sharing queens, queen cells and raising new queens through emergency cells, as well as feeding cleaning, hive maintenance and occasional pint lifting!
We are not completely over, as there is still winterising to do and we'll be calling back the beginners for varroa treatment, feeding, general winterising and preparing the equipment for next season. This will be one Saturday in the next month or two and will be open to the Branch members as well.
We have taken off a few pounds of honey - probably around 50 so that will go towards defraying our expenses. All those who attended have done some honey extraction and filtering, but no jarring up, labelling or selling. Perhaps we should also run a marketing course!
From the 24 we started out with we have about 10 good quality beekeepers whom we hope will go on to having their own hives and becoming long term beekeepers and regular contributors to the Branch and our activities. The drop off from 24 to 10 is fairly normal, but we'd still like to understand if there is anything that we are doing that would be better if we changed our approach?
So as we come towards the end of the season, all is not over! There is still the Honey Show to come to and see the different honeys that the branch members have collected and presented. MUBK runs one of the best honey shows in Worcestershire with a significant entry level. After this we have the Memorial Lecture, an Apiary Maintenance day a Branch activity that many members attend, and in the New Year our Annual Dinner.
I have made some good friends in MUBK and I'd like to thank all the mentors who have turned out week after week to help with the new trainees and pass on their wealth of knowledge. Without them the training program would not be the same. And also my thanks for the help and support through the winter in preparing for this spring, you know who you are and your help has been greatly appreciated.
Getting prepared for the Summer Season
Equipment: This is probably the first thing we did, a clean-up of the equipment that was stuck in the shed over winter and didn’t get properly sorted last year. So this included all the brood boxes and supers that we are planning to use this year. These were scraped off to remove wax, propolis, old honey, wax moth and general detritus. Once scraped, we burnt them all to kill any eggs or disease so they are clean and ready to use.
Frames: Make up new frames for both brood boxes and also supers. It is surprising how quickly you need them. I am advocate for shook swarming or bailey frame changing as it gives the bees a lot do in the early stages of the year, may make them think that they have already swarmed and also it means you get lots of lovely new comb for the queen to lay in and for your supers.
Tools: These often get forgotten and it is a good idea to make sure you have hive tools, smokers, queen cages, marking pens etc so when you come to do your first inspection you have everything to hand.
Clothing: Get your suit cleaned for the beginning of the season. We wash ours in washing soda. This does not have any perfume and it fairly easily gets rid of wax, propolis and general residues that contaminate your suit.
Thursday evening saw the beginners diving into hives for thge first time, and they all enjoyed the activities. Of course this was the first time the bees had been opened up for a full inspection and the evening was a little chillier than we would have liked, but even the bees were well behaved. No stings, no aggression, just calm bees happy to see their attendees again for this year.
The hives were in fairly good shape, queens laying, in all but one, some stores loads of pollen and generally good health and temper. A couple of the hives are a bit weak, and one appears to have a sluggish queen, if she is still in there. May be a candidate for amalgamation next week.
Another hive was on a brood and a half, but the half was doing little so was removed to allow the bees to huddle together more easily.
The beginners were all keen to take part and handle bees and were clam and gentle with them, and gave the mentors an easy time - but that will change as they get better and challenge us more!
A good evening had by all - just an additional point, if any of the beginners want to do any extra visits, at the weeekend for example or to carry out any procedures with their bees, we are happy to facilitate this. After all, these bees are going to live or die at the hands of the beginners so they had best look after them!
We've been cleaning all the bee suits ready for the beginners - or at least Hilary Stephens has. So all are now ready for the new intake.Occasionally members want to borrow suits and in an effort to manage our bio-security, we won't be lending out the beginners suits. We do have a few spares though and these can be made available so long as there is a clear understanding that the suits are returned freshly laundered - and in washing soda only! No perfume required thank you.
To augment our hives we have had invaluable help from Mick Wooley who has done some excellent work building new brood boxes and supers for the branch. These are now awaiting painting and some have already been squirrelled away by the Stephens' for decorating. Still plenty left if there are any volunteers?
We are great believers in an early foundation change for the bees either by Bailey frame change or shook swarm. This gives bees new foundation to draw and this requires plenty of activity early on in the season as the queen starts to lay, and this distraction may discourage later swarming. It doesn't always though! So we will be preparing for this by painting the hives parts we have that are to be put to use this year. Paint and brushes provided - date - see below....
APIARY OPEN DAY
We are planning an open day at the Apiary on Saturday 28th April. All members are welcome to come along and see what we are doing and how we are trying to make the apiary more member friendly. There will be an opportunity to help out with some apiary maintenance as well as meet old faces and take tea with them. Recommended for all - particularly Improvers and Beginners and new members who are already beekeepers. That's about everyone then.
The renowned mycologist and genius discoverer of immunological and bio-remedial properties of mushrooms, Paul Stamets unveils his latest breakthrough research.
His latest epiphany is MycoHoney, made by bees that sip mycelium droplets, which prolongs worker bee longevity, detoxifies the hive, and could prevent colony collapse disorder, as well as our own. Please watch the video below and make your own minds up about this fascinating topic.