Season Update: January Blues (but not really)

Hello everyone! The team and I hope that you all had a lovely New Year and are looking forward to the beekeeping season ahead. It has been extremely mild over the winter (she says whilst the temperatures have plummeted over the weekend) and whilst inspecting our colony’s feed situations last week the girls have come out to greet us, as well as spotting a few bringing pollen back to their homes.

The workers looking far too busy for January, they may be bringing pollen from the catkins

It has been quite exciting being back after some time off, as some of you may know I had a short time away in Bulgaria snowboarding and only escaped with a few minor injuries! We’re receiving more and more nuc orders now we are into 2020 so if you would likes bees from us this year please don’t leave it to late to get your orders in.

We are really trying to be more in tune with social media (our facebook, instagram & twitter). We started our in depth ‘Beginner’s FAQ‘ with our first post being an analytical piece ‘How Much Does it Cost to Start Beekeeping in 2020?‘ which has already proved to be extremely popular! We’re so pleased that there is more interest in our blog which has always been present but not the most viewed part of our socials, we’re hoping that our experience as bee farmers will be able to help others in the long run.

Sian and I headed to our first talk of 2020 at our local beekeeper’s association which was very illuminating! The talk was called ‘Wings, Stings and Other Things’ and involved honeybee dissection to show us honeybee anatomy and it was absolutely brilliant. James Donaldson manipulated the honeybee to show us how the wings and stinger operates and talked us through the digestive system, I think I can say for the whole of the association that we all learnt something new!

Me trying my hand at carefully dissecting a honeybee

We’re now looking to attend a microscopy course this year to enhance our skills as beefarmers, not just to advance our understanding of honeybee anatomy, but hopefully to analyse our own pollen and possibly diagnose diseases (though fingers crossed we’d not find the need for that!)

We had a huge(ish) overhaul of our unit and decided to move some of our shelving units upstairs and move our glass jars downstairs (yes we were stupidly carrying box after box of jars up and down the stairs). It is certainly much more spacious and is making it much more of a pleasure to work there.

Rob refitting our shelving upstairs (Sian’s bunkbed)

Our Rob is currently in Spain where it is unfortunately raining! Can you imagine? After all that rain here he thought he could escape to warmer climates but the rain had followed him! He is only away for a week but that means no collections from Headley until 27th January.

A terrified looking commercial brood box D:

To those who haven’t started feeding fondant, please make sure that you continue checking the weight of your hives, in the warmer weather the colony can burn through their stores super quickly. We always recommend putting a pack of fondant on at this point in the year. If your bees don’t need it you can remove it wehn you do your spring checks and wrap it back up again. However it may save your colony if they do need it! Remember some weight can be attributed to late flowering ivy which the bees may not be able to break down since it sets so solidly in the cells.

We hope things are looking good for all our fellow beekeepers and bee farmers, fingers crossed for minimum winter losses.

Becky

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