At last, with the weather finally warming up and the evenings drawing out, an air of normality is pervading the apiaries. Not to say that it’s been wall to wall sunshine every day but in between the rain we’ve had some very warm days. In fact, I was sorely tempted to remove one of my vests on one of them. But seriously, we’ve just come to the end of a very nice, if not long overdue, week when the temperature on one of the days was an all time record. The bees, quite naturally, have been taking full advantage exiting the hives en masse at first light and returning with masses of pollen, and nectar, I shouldn’t wonder.
RETURNING WITH MASSES OF POLLEN AND NECTAR
I have managed to hive the nuc., now Hive 1, and hive three is now on double brood. You will recall that three over-wintered on brood and a half due to the late build up which rather caught me off guard as I didn’t have an empty brood box prepared. Well, as I said, that is now put right and I’ve high hopes that they will now expand rapidly in time for my Cloake-Board queen rearing attempt. To this end, I have given both hives three and one a feed of syrup. Before installing the second brood box, I obviously had to remove the super with which they had over-wintered. Upon examination, making sure the queen hadn’t taken up residence, I was very pleased to find one frame of capped honey with another two well on the way. Considering the weather we’ve had so far this year, that was a most unexpected surprise. I’m hoping that was an omen for the year to come and shall be keeping my fingers firmly crossed.
Earlier this year, our Society ran it’s beginner’s course. The course ran for a couple of hours, on Friday evenings, for six weeks. This year’s course was particularly well attended, considering “The beast from the east” and all it threw at us, and for the first time we decided to include a practical session at the end of the course, and to hold this, on this occasion, at my Mendip “C” apiary. Last Saturday was the appointed day and from memory, and as of Friday, we had only received confirmation of attendance from half a dozen or so. As it had rained on and off most of the Saturday morning I wasn’t feeling overly hopeful as I prepared the tea-urn and biscuits. And then, as if by order, the sun appeared from behind the clouds where she’d been hiding and the gardens were bathed in warm sunshine. Ten minutes later the first car arrived and from that moment until we were due to begin, there was a steady stream to the point where not only was the parking area filled but also the lane leading up to the house. I didn’t count how many people we ended up with but I’m sure, including the committee members who always show their support, there were more than twenty. The bees, as if realising the importance of the occasion, were thankfully, on their best behaviour and the afternoon passed in a very pleasant and relaxed manner. We finished with coffee and biscuits on the lawn which gave everyone the opportunity of an informal chat and a chance to exchange ideas. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially the friendly chatting over the tea and coffee and, from the comments I received, I think, so did everyone else. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly slept well that night!
I don’t know whether all of the publicity regarding neonic’s or the threat from Asian hornets has suddenly awakened the public’s awareness as to the importance of the honey bee, but I’m certainly detecting something of a renaissance in bee-keeping. In addition to the number of people attending this year’s beginner’s course, which as I said, was up on all previous years, I’m definitely seeing an increase in people who, whilst not necessarily wishing to own their own bees, would be happy to have someone else’s bees on their property. From memory I received three such offers last year and have just finished speaking with a very nice lady on that very subject. Her details were passed down to me from BBKA and have now been circulated to our membership. The site seemed to be an ideal opportunity for someone wishing to have their own bees but nowhere suitable of their own to keep them. I hope someone is able to take advantage of this lady’s kind offer.
Less than a week since the apiary meeting and since then we’ve had very little sunshine, in fact, for three of the days it has rained quite heavily, and this accompanied by a cold East wind. I’m beginning to think it was a good idea giving the bees some syrup. It’s a good job it states “Spring” on the tin, you’d never know otherwise!