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!

A glimmer of hope for swarming bees

Swarm lured from roof space

Has it really been nearly 2 months since I last jotted down some of my beekeeping adventures? Well, what a way to come back - luring a swarming of bees out of a roof space at work and into a bait hive!

This time of year is when honey bees are likely to swarm as their colony sizes grow and the next generation needs room to expand. It’s a beekeeper’s job is to try and prevent that from happening as not everyone likes honey bees and they could be seen as a nuisance, especially when they take up residence in your roof space – and that’s what happened at work last Thursday!

Super queen cell

Capped queen cell

It's official... I've now experienced what it's like to carry out an artificial swarm. It's the one thing I've been dreading since becoming a beekeeper in 2016. You read about it in books, you watch videos and practice. But when it comes to doing it, everything seems to be forgotten and you're left there wondering what to do while thousands of bees fly around as you disrupt their home!