MARCH

And so into March, traditionally synonymous with strong winds, and for any fans of gale force winds, they certainly won’t have been disappointed thus far. Storm Gareth has been with us, more or less, since the beginning of the month and to give you some idea of the wind strength, for the first time since I began keeping bees, I’ve had roofs actually blown off two of the hives. Fortunately, only one of the hives had bees in and even more so, probably due to propolis, the crown board had stayed in place. Even so, it was with some trepidation that I entered the apiary the following morning, going straight to the hive in question. Imagine my relief to find bees coming and going in numbers, totally unaware how close they had come to honeybee Armageddon. None of the other beekeepers that I’ve spoken with have ever had a roof dislodged by wind and I’m really hopeful that this was a one off.

With Storm Gareth now little more than a distant memory, the second half of the month has seen a distinct improvement in the weather. With high pressure now in control, we have enjoyed several days of continuous sunshine. The cold wind has persisted so I’ve resisted the temptation to open the hives, other than to lift the roofs to check on the syrup and fondant situation which the bees have continued to attack with some gusto. Until yesterday, that is. I arrived quite early at the Station  Apiary and immediately began Yacht varnishing the empty nuc’s., the main reason for my visit. There were already good numbers of bees issuing from the hives which, considering how fresh the breeze felt along with the number of parked cars I’d earlier passed that had frost on, was quite surprising and in stark contrast to the situation a week or so earlier.

Pleased to report, the Month, despite a shaky start, has finished pretty well for us here at Mendip. Not only have I finished refurbishing my nuc’s., I’ve completed my first colony inspections and found laying queens with plenty of brood and stores in all but one. The queen in the colony without brood is a plump little thing, only just into her second season and appears in perfect health. There is an abundance of flying bees all returning fully laden with pollen, usually a sign that a laying queen is in residence but seemingly, not in this case. So, I don’t know what’s wrong with her but I’ve decided to leave her for another week and if there’s no change by then, I’ll have to remove her and give the colony a frame of brood from one of the other hives.

Our Society finished it’s annual beginner’s course the end of last month and, as we had done last year, we decided to include a practical session and again, it was decided to hold it at my Mendip “C” apiary. In preparation I had ordered two new mated queens from Becky’s Bees but unfortunately, due to bad weather on the continent, they hadn’t arrived. That, coupled with the extremely poor weather the week leading up to the meeting, led us to considering cancelling and it was decided to wait until a couple of days before the day of the meeting before making that decision. As it happened, the weather suddenly took a turn for the better, that is to say, although the sun still hadn’t appeared, it looked as though it might. We needn’t have worried, Saturday dawned and by mid morning, the clouds had all but disappeared, and the sun shone. The first car arrived about one o’clock and by two-thirty the place was heaving.

Beginners course, Cameley 008

BY 2.30 THE PLACE WAS HEAVING

Beginners course, Cameley 005

ON OUR WAY TO MEET THE BEES

It was difficult speaking to so many people and passing frames of brood for everyone to have a look at. Although the sun was shining, there was still a chill breeze and I didn’t want to risk chilling the brood. I think we just about managed although, it would have been a lot easier if I’d had my new queens in their nuc’s.