Heavy pollen baskets

Honey bee gathering pollen from winter honeysuckle

With the days drawing out, there are signs that Spring is on its way. Already there are snowdrops in flower as well as purples and yellows of the crocus opening their petals to reveal nectar and pollen to passers by in the insect world.

Telltale signs of a colony's health during winter

Varroa drop after treatment

When we prepare our bees for the long winter months, many beekeepers treat them to reduce the level of varroa mites in the colony. These are parasitic mites that live and feed off the bees and if left unchecked, can cause the colony to dwindle and die as the bees have not built up sufficient resistance to rid themselves of this mite themselves.

2020 honey monitoring scheme... the results are in

Honey bee on bramble flower

The National Honey Monitoring Scheme states "Both honey bees and wild bees have suffered declines in recent years. These are thought to be linked to agricultural intensification, including pesticide use and loss of habitats/ floral resources, as well as the emergence of new diseases and climate change. Their sensitivity to the way we manage land in the UK has long been a cause for concern."

Unseasonal weather

Two beehives on a hive stand

What is happening with our weather? Here we are in May yet the temperature has hardly got into double figures down in this part of the country. The days may be sunny, but the wind chill factor is bitterly cold. This makes opening hives for inspections impossible. To do so would risk chilling the brood.

Smooth and creamy

Jar of creamed honey (soft set)

It's been a while since I last sat down and put fingers to the keyboard, but what better way to start than introduce my creamed honey (also known as set honey) that I now sell from the door!

My beekeeping journey started in May 2016 and I love soft set honey, especially when it's spread over hot toast. Or if I really want to spoil myself, then it's a fresh scone, clotted cream and a spoonful of honey. Absolutely delicious. I've since learnt that this is called Thunder and Lightening. Not sure why, but it beats a Devon or Cornish cream tea.

Jobs for the winter months

Honey for sale sign

As we head to this year's shortest day (21 December) my mind starts to turn to the jobs still waiting to be done before the bees start busying themselves in the spring. It may sound a fair way yet, but with the speed at which this year has gone by, I need to get a wriggle on. So where am I with beekeeping?

Spring potting and bees

Nuc potted on into National hive

At last, the long cold days are over and we're enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine. We may be living through Covid-19 lockdown but our honey bees are going about their business as normal. And at this time of year, colonies are increasing in size and the nectar flow has begun in earnest.

Choosing an apiary site

Flooding near beehive

When choosing an apiary site, there’s a list of things we need to consider to make sure it fits the criteria for both the bees and the beekeeper. However, when you think you’ve chosen well, along comes Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis and makes you rethink.