Saturday - a day to lie in and take it easy after a busy week at work. Except this morning's alarm was set extra early to get me up and out of the door by 7 o'clock for a drive across the Devon border into Somerset to attend the County Disease and Husbandry Day organised by the Somerset Beekeepers' Association.
Seven days ago I added a varroa board below the floor of my beehive as it's time to do a count of how many varroa mites are in the colony. These litter critters are not easily spotted with the naked eye yet for the bees themselves, it's like flying with a dinner plate on your back. They don't call this particular mite the varroa destructor for nothing as it can have a devastating affect on colonies of bees if left to get out of control and can collapse colonies and wipe them out.
Reading this month's British Beekeepers' Association newsletter (No: 223 - July 2016) I noticed that an initiative to introduce an annual World Bee Day has been gathering support to raise awareness of the important of bees around the world and to remind people how dependant we all are on bees and other pollinators.
Finishing work on a Friday normally signals the start of the weekend but this Friday was different - I had a colony of bees to go and collect. Not for myself but for The Donkey Sanctuary where I work which I mentioned in What's all the buzz about? back in January this year. I already have bees at the bottom of the garden and now I have a great opportunity to resurrect a pair of beehives at The Donkey Sanctuary after the bee colony collapsed a couple of years ago.
The month of June so far hasn't been too kind to my bees as we've had more than our fair share of rain here in Devon. In fact, we've had torrential rain which means the girls can't get out to forage for their food and no doubt relying on the stores they've gathered over the months... as the saying goes "saved for a rainy day"!
Looking out the window in the mornings before I go to work, there are a few brave little bees at the hive entrance and as soon as the rain stops the girls are flying off on their mission to gather pollen, nectar and water to replenish their stores.
This weekend I've been busy in the garden but not too busy to finally get round to adding a splash of colour to the second beehive (aka 59b) waiting in the wings should Lizzie decide her present abode in the first beehive (aka 59a) is not up to scratch. We are nearing the end of of what's known as the swarming season and from recent inspections, I'm pretty hopeful that Lizzie and her family are content with their beehive home at the bottom of the garden.
Having got back from Strasbourg, one of the first things I did was put my beesuit on and head out into the garden to see what the girls have been up to for the week. The first thing I noticed was how heavy the super was just lifting it up to put to one side. What a difference a week can make - there was a mixture of stores glistening in the sunlight and capped stores - honey!
Strasbourg, what a wonderful city made even more wonderful by its caring citizens who embrace and support the environmental plans in place to help protect our planet. Even the insects in the city are supported and cared for with an array of different species of plants friendly to pollinators and a rich source of food for them to forage.
This bank holiday weekend, surprisingly the weather has been lovely and sunny - just the weather for a spot of gardening. With the sun rising in the east, the front garden is in full sunlight very early on in the day and who should I find visiting the flowers but one of my little honey bees. There she was busy dipping into each flower to gathering what she needs to take back to the colony. The gardening soon got forgotten as I went back inside to grab a camera and take photos of her visiting each flower in turn.