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1st Queens

We had our first lot of mated queens last week but we only received 25% of our order due to poor seasonal weather.  This obviously caused a lot of problems for us and for our customers but the excitement when they arrived was great.  I do love this time of the year.

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Our bees are working hard and we are doing our best to keep up with the nucs at the at the moment.  The shortage on queens is proving to be a real problem as we are running out of nuc brood boxes to put on top of the nucs to give them more space!

The honey production colonies are doing equally well but I don’t know what the crop from the oil seed rape will be like this year for us as some of the sites were out in full flower last week but the weather was so poor. What a contrast to today and yesterday though, I was in a vest top yesterday it was so warm.

Watch out for those swarms, even though all ours have been given room we have lost a few already.  Rob called in the first one a couple of days ago; he managed to hive it OK so at least we’ve not lost the bees.  That was from one of our over wintered langstroths that we had not had a chance to check because the temperatures had been too low!!!

Sians Breeder queens arrived yesterday as well. She is getting really excited (we all are) to get started with her grafting, we still have much to do and we need to make sure we don’t rush things and most importantly we need to ensure the breeder queens are accepted into there nuc boxes as it would be a nightmare if they are rejected!

Happy Easter to you all, Becky and the team.

 

 

 

What a week

I have had a super week. It’s been busy and a struggle at times with the phone ringing none stop but to me it’s the start of many weeks to come as the beekeeping season is finally here.

Our apprentice sprained his ankle badly last weekend and was unable to bear weight which meant beekeeping was out of the question for  him. I was therefore dragged out of the office, believe me if didn’t take too much dragging, to help. It was lovely, I was in my element!

The weather was great, and working with the bees was wonderful; working with a hive of bees is like nothing else I have ever enjoyed so much. You get lost in your own world and when you stop and look around at where you are it’s amazing, there are bees flying, birds, other insects and wild animals and it’s just so relaxing and rewarding.

How lucky and I to have a job that I love so much. The thing with bees is you can’t rush them and all colonies are different.

So, if you haven’t been able to get into your bees yet make the time whilst the weather is good.  Don’t guess that if one hive is OK the others will be too.  On the site Rob and I we were at on Friday we had some colonies that were worrying light on food and others that were packed so full the queens hardly had any room to lay.

The good news is that there was a good flow on at that site. We did lose a few colonies but overall they have wintered well.  We put on extra brood boxes where needed and as we saw drones already in some of the colonies we put a few bait hives out.  All unmarked queens were marked or re-marked if the marking was coming off.

Check your bees have space, but not too much.  If you are double brooded and the bees are only on a few frames reduce down to one brood box so that the bees have less volume area to keep warm.  If they are on single brood and packed out put a super above.  If you’re not sure if they are ready for a super a good tip is to put one on but put a sheet of newspaper between.  If they want access to the super they will nibble their way through.

If you find you have a colony that appears to be queenless and has possibly come through the winter queen less think long and hard about what you are going to do.  How old are the bees in the colony. Before you spend good money on a mated queen think about whether your bees have enough life left in them to rear brood. Winter bees live longer but how old are they already?  A new queen may come in to lay in a day or two of introduction but the brood needs to be looked after for 21 days and then when the brood does hatch out the young bees need to mature.  Will your winter bees really be up to the job or will they just ignore a new queen?

The other option is to boost your colony by adding frames of emerging brood and young bees from another colony.  This may work but how many frames do you need to add to make it viable and what impact will this have on your other colonies.  Would you be better to let your other colonies build up more and then buy a new queen in a few weeks time and make your own splits.  Some times robbing from Peter to pay Paul is counter productive and you end up compromising both colonies.

Remember to clean your floors if they need it.  You will inevitably have a few dead bees and other detritus on the floor and if you colony is still quite small they may not have enough house bees to do this job so this is one way you can help them 🙂

Forgot to mention that we did a honey tasting at Rosebourne Garden Center last week.  Our Cinnamon honey was very popular and I took baby Gabriel with me (the bear in the beesuit)

Happy Spring Equinox

Hi to all, the dandelions are out, it’s officially Spring and I want to be in a bee suit!  Today we, or me, had been hoping the weather was going to be warm enough today for us to check some bees but its just not happened 😦   I know its warmer elsewhere as I have spoken with some of my bee farmer friends and they are out there now all suited up checking their bees for winter losses and making sure all is well.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring some warmer weather to Hampshire so we can do the same.

I am bit late posting about BeeTradex which was the weekend before last. We went up the day before to set up and we stayed at the Woodside Hotel with other members of the BFA (Bee Farmers Assoc.).  It’s always a fun evening with plenty of drinks, laughs and stories to be told!  The actual trade show on the Saturday went really well.  I’m not sure of the overall footfall but Rob and I didn’t stop all day.  I went off for the BFA meeting for a few hours and poor old Rob was run ragged by the time I got back!

This week has been quite quiet so Sian and I have taken the opportunity to re-stock our store here.   A job well done, we only have a few more bits to sort out and we are ready for the onslaught of orders.

So, if its quiet in the office you may well ask what we have been doing??  Well, Sian has been running me through the new queen rearing schedule she has drawn up.  We have been talking through the pros and cons of the new plan.  I eventually got my head around it all, thankfully Sian has plenty of patience…  It has made us (me) very excited and we are just champing at the bit to get out there.  Roll on the warm weather is what I say.

Gabe is on his apprenticeship block training this week in Surrey, we miss you Gabe, and Rob is busy lambing so we’ve not seen much of him either (Beckys Bees has lambs too, names “Sian’s Sheeps”.  Thankfully we have Roxy to keep us company and she even helped us with the re-stocking!!

The Weather is Jarring

After the brief and exciting sunny spell we’re back to grey skies and rain. I hope that many of you got some initial checks done, we have here and things are looking positive, though as expected we have had a few losses. Aptly, Sian and I attended a fascinating talk by Norman Carreck of Sussex University in regards to Colony Loss and the improvement of honeybee health at the Andover District Beekeepers Association. It was a bit of an information overload and very scientific but we had a good discussion about it on the drive back and gave us food for thought in regards to our own beekeeping practices.

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With the return of chilly weather we’ve retreated into winter mode and today we’re jarring some more softset honey. It wasn’t too long ago that we last jarred softset but we ran out of stock amazingly quickly! Luckily enough we had enough runny honey and cinnamon infused honey for pancake day yesterday. We had a few lovely customers come knocking on our door for a little jar to top their pancakes.

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Back at the yard Gabe has finished painting our langstroth nucs and is busily making frames to fill them all. Sian and Gabe are planning to paint our rather plain walls in our new unit, but they should probably get started before the season begins or it will end up on the backburner.

It is BeeTradeX this weekend and Rob and I are looking forward to seeing many of our customers there. We’ll have various beekeeping supplies for sale but mainly we are attending so that you can put a face the name of the person you speak to on the phone! So, if you are looking for us we will be in stall 25 next to Urban Hawks and Part Time Beekeeping Supplies.

Becky

Has the Season Started?

What glorious weather we have had over the past few days and I know that many of you have taken the opportunity to do those first checks on your bees.  If you have already checked them I hope the news is good and that your bees are looking well after winter. If you need any advice please don’t hesitate to ask us.

The blackthorn is well out in flower now and I saw my first dandelion yesterday but I didn’t have my phone to take a photo!!

Oh and I did wash those feeders – eventually!

Gabe has been welding a paint brush and roller around all last week getting another load of poly nucs ready for when we start doing our splits for nucs – these are all langstroth.

Sian and Rob were the lucky ones who got to out and play with some of our bees yesterday and today all three of them were out again at one of our bigger sites. So far the news is really good with minimal winter losses but they have still got lots of colonies to check.

The weather is going to change tomorrow, we are forecast rain and lower temperatures so there won’t be any opening of hives tomorrow.