Carpet of yellow

Fields of oil seed rape

Driving to work last week, I noticed across a long section of hedge that a couple of fields were taking on a bit of a yellow tint to them. Passing an open gateway to a field further up the road on the right, an abundance of yellow flowers had almost opened overnight with the warm weather. What does this mean for the beekeeper? Well, if conditions are right, it could mean an early crop of honey.

The beekeeping season begins

Many a beekeeper has been heard to say that when the flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) is in flower, the weather is warm enough for the first colony inspection of the year. This month, my own shrub has come into flower and the weather certainly is warming up enough for me to take a quick look inside each of my colonies. The Ribes is usually one of the early flowering shrubs that provides much-need nectar for colonies coming through the winter and looking to replenish their stores.

Blustery but busy

Magnolia flowers

Can you remember this time last year when we were battling through snow storms? Now it's an onslaught of one storm after another bringing a deluge of rain and strong winds. Despite the rain, I still go and visit my apiary once a week to check all is well and to make sure all my honey bee colonies have enough stores for the following week. It's vital at this time of year to check as stores will be diminishing rapidly as colonies begin to build back up.

Pollen... right down to the smallest detail

Mimosa pollen grain

As we start thinking about our spring preparations and making sure all our bee equipment is ready for the season, how many of us look around us to see what is in the larder for our bees at this time of year. Again, the weather has been unseasonal with a few days of warm weather thrown in. The girls have been out flying using up vital energy which means they will be depleting stores within their hives with not a lot for them to bring back in the way of nectar.

Being creative with honey

Being creative with hive products

Well a month has gone by since I last wrote, so what have I been up to? With more honey this year (due to having more colonies), I decided to get a little creative to see what ideas I could come up with - all using products from the hive. It's been fun learning but also challenging to get the effect I was looking for, but the hours spent trying ideas and eventually seeing them finished has been very rewarding.

Jobs in the apiary and a surprise find

Newly-painted poly nuc

With the arrival of September, came the seasonal change as well taking us into Autumn which means beekeepers are turning their attention to winter preparations. Hard to think about, when looking out of the window on a gloriously sunny day, that soon my colonies will be clustering inside their hives trying to keep warm and sustain themselves through to spring.

A lull in foraging

Feeding sugar syrup to bees

With the summer nectar flow over and little stores coming in, the colony I look after at The Donkey Sanctuary is needing their winter stores giving a boost to ensure that it reaches around 40lb by the beginning of October.

Stacking up the supers

Honey bee colonies with large stacks of supers

Have had an amazing weekend helping a beekeeping friend to take off supers from her colonies. There's me with my three hives thinking that was hard work!

It all started on the Friday when I asked Jan if she needed any jars as was about to put in an order with C Wynne Jones this week. To cut a long story short, I volunteered to give a helping hand as she mentioned the supers were difficult to take off, especially on her own. How high were they?

Having a super time

Apiary showing stacked supers

It's been another busy weekend removing supers full of honey, spinning it out and watching the liquid gold silently pouring into jars. Yet again the weather has been a scorcher and climbing into the beesuit soon had me hot and bothered.. and that was before I even got started!

The month of June tends to be the month when there is little forage around for the bees, but not so this year. There's been an abundance of nectar and the girls have been out gathering the bounty.

Opening the honey gate

Honey pouring out through honey gate

With the sweltering heat of the summer, the last thing you want to do is put on a beesuit, but the weekly inspections must carry on for a little longer to make sure there's ample space for the queen to lay as well as ensuring there's sufficient space to prevent the colony from getting congested - one of the main reasons why a colony will swarm is not having enough room. However, with a good nectar flow on, the girls are busy bees and there's an abundance of honey being made. That means lifting off very heavy supers to reach the brood box!