This has been an odd month for us here at Mendip. I seem to have been “on the go” more or less non stop with very little to show for my efforts. The first job was to extract the honey that my tiny buzzing friends had kindly provided, not enough for me to resurrect the market stall but certainly worth the effort. The last couple of years have been very poor so, it was a real treat to see the fifty or so pounds that we did end up with, jarred and labelled. It will be nice to be able to answer in the affirmative to my regulars, when I’m asked whether or not we have any honey this year.

We had the last apiary meeting of the year this month and it was to be held at my Mendip “C” apiary, something I always look forward to. The meetings are always themed and as usual a guest “expert” had been arranged. The theme was to be “Preparation for Winter, feeding and feeders” and as I said, I was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say. Imagine then my surprise at a ‘phone call, only a few days before the event from our Secretary, telling me that we no longer had a guest speaker as he had been unexpectedly taken ill. ” It’s too late for me to organise anyone else at this short notice” Mark told me, “I wondered how you’d feel about taking the meeting”. Taken somewhat aback, and before I had really had a chance to consider my reply, I found myself saying, “ Shouldn’t be a problem Mark, I’ve got a selection of feeders and should be able to cobble something together”. “Well, if you’re sure that you don’t mind, I’ll get an e’mail out” Mark replied, “see you on Saturday”. So, that was why Saturday morning found me at Mendip “C” assembling a variety of feeders and other paraphernalia which I thought might be of interest. The more I thought about what I was taking on, the more daunting the thought became. More than half the members have been keeping bees for a lot longer than me and I didn’t want anyone thinking that I was “trying to teach Granny how to suck eggs”. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried, soon the car park was filled with white suited, friendly bee-keepers and before I knew it, I had done my bit and everybody was tucking into apple pies and cream teas. Everyone seemed in good spirits and the comments I received suggested the day had gone well. I normally consider that if we get a dozen members at one of our apiary meetings it has been a success and as I counted a few more than that, it was with a huge sigh of relief that I bid farewell to our last guests.

I’m not sure whether I have mentioned earlier, but I have decided, after much deliberation, to leave the meadow. Since my friend Charles sadly left us and quite understandably, under the new owners, things have begun to change. The allotment holders have all departed and the gardens once kept in pristine conditions are now overgrown and uncared for. The seating under the apple trees, where Charles and spent so many happy hours, putting the “world to rights” whilst sharing a cup of tea, has now gone. Added to this the fact that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to negotiate the meadow slope, which I swear is getting steeper by the day, I feel the time is right to make a move. I’m very fortunate to have been offered another site, not a million miles from the meadow and to that effect, I have been busy acquiring and sawing up timber for the new hive stands. Because of the close proximity of the new site to the meadow, I have temporarily moved the meadow bees to one of Liz’s apiaries while I complete the new stands. As soon as I told Liz of my pending move, she immediately offered to have the bees and as if that wasn’t kind enough, one evening last week, she and her husband came to the meadow, collected them and transported them to her place, priceless!

Two of the meadow hives housed swarms which I’d collected, earlier and both appeared to be doing well. I had been feeding them ever since I’d hived them and although they had received similar amounts of syrup, one seemed suddenly, to be lacking behind the other. For that reason and, with the pending move in mind, I decided to unite them with hive four, which had suddenly all the appearances of having lost their queen. The uniting had gone to plan so now there were only four hives to move to the Liz’s. Imagine my surprise then, to find, on my first visit to the hives at their temporary site, the day following the move, that the other swarm colony seemed to have suddenly lost weight. I expected them to feel lighter than the one that had been united, but certainly not this noticeably. I decided the solution, rather than risk losing them, would be to unite them with the nuc. from “C” and so later that evening I collected the nuc and placed it beside the problem colony at the temporary site.

New hive stands and Dawlish 004



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