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.

Eventful memories

Food Fair stall

With my bees now hunkered down in their beehives, weathering out the miserable October weather, what now occupies a beekeeper? There is of course all the equipment to clean and make ready for next spring, which seems ages away. I'll put it off another week.

Super efficient

Extracting honey

For some beekeepers, the honey crop seems to be the most important goal of their beekeeping year but for me, I only take any surplus honey leaving a good store of honey for the bees. This year was no exception. While others were taking honey off their colonies in the springtime, I chose to leave their stores. There's good reason for doing this and it's all about the changing climate and helping the bees to get through their year.

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