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.

Termperature on the rise

Honey bee on lime flower

This week we've seen a big rise in the temperature and the sun is shining in a glorious blue sky. That's good news for our pollinators and other insects because it means those buds on trees and flowers that have been just on the edge of opening are in full bloom. There's nothing like standing in front of a hive and watching honey bees darting out of the entrance and on their way to reap the benefits.

Resourceful swarm collection

Swarm collection

Three years ago to this day was when I officially became a beekeeper. It hardly seems like yesterday but here I am with five colonies, a couple of nucs raising new queens as well as a couple of beekeeping qualifications along the way. So, how have I been spending the day?

Alexanders pollen baskets

Honey bee gathering pollen from Alexanders flowers

While out walking our dog along the country lanes, a certain whiff in the air caught my nose at the weekend and it's one that you don't easily forget - it was the distinct smell of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) growing in the hedgerows. Looking closer, the flowers were covered in honey bees and other insects gathering pollen and nectar as their reward.

Raising a new queen

Swarm prevention - queen in poly nuc hive

Am quite pleased with myself this weekend. I managed to prevent one of my colonies from swarming. The weather wasn't great but knew if I left this particular colony any longer than my regular 7 day inspection routine, then the chances are they would swarm. The queen has been busy expanding the size of the colony and at some point they would be making swarming preparations. I waited until mid-afternoon when the weather brightened up and went to take a look.

Water and life

Four days of relaxation and enjoying my honeybees... that was the plan this Easter but with a nectar flow on, it's a race to keep my colonies of bees adequately supplied with space inside their hives to expand. Not only that but to provide additional space to process and store their nectar. This year it's the first time that Oil Seed Rape (Brassica napus) is within their flying zone and they are busy filling their supers.