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.
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."
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.
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.
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?