Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Early Spring Inspection

It's been so cold of late - well at the times that have been open for me to get to my bees - that last Friday was really the first time this year I've been able to look through my hives. It all looks quite good really.  I'm not sure what I was expecting for a first inspection; I always think the hives are going to be bursting with new brood and the hive on the verge of swarming.  The reality is normally very different.

None of my hives had much (if any) brood and I wonder whether the cold snap we had a couple of weeks ago hit them hard.  But they were good tempered and seem to have sufficient stores in house.  Certainly enough now that Blackthorn is in flower. Apparently the bad weather we just had is termed a 'Blacktorn Winter' as the snow and cold followed the flowering.

I removed some of the supers that were left on the hives over the winter.  Several of these contained frames of set (Ivy) honey. so i need to figure out what to do with that!  Now all my hives are down to a single deep and a single super which seems manageable for the time of year and none have queen excluders in them. I did reverse one super - I saw the queen in this and decided to do a reverse to encourage her to move up - I'm ever the optimist!

All this means I'm going to be hands off for a couple of weeks, or a month. Mid-April always used to be the first real nectar flow in Missouri, and although it's very very different here I'll wait until at least then before I do anything else, other than perhaps just sit by the hive enjoying their activity!

It's also good having my observation hive at home close at hand and I'll take a look in it as soon as I can. This is my base line as I always thought they we're the weakest hive coming into winter. If they survive then the others must be doing well! 

To date, in baseball parlance,  I'm "5 for 5" with my hives. Five into winter and five out (so far). Life is good! 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Out and About

It’s been ages since I’ve seen any activity so it’s brilliant to see one or two bees brave the damp weather. I’m not sure what forage is out there but I guess they must like the warmer weather to do some cleaning!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Going Nuts!

Thanksgiving is now past so Christmas must be just around the corner... as a result we’re going nuts here at Sandhills Honey!  Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Pistachios to be precise! I just love how the colours are warmed through a filter of Honey!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cheeky Monkey

Thanks Cici

Lovely to see some of my Kirkwood marketing material is still hanging around and being put to good use!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

2018 Preparations

OK. So it's a bit premature but I actually saw a bargain (or what I thought was anyway) and went and splashed out on a 4-frame stainless steel manual extractor. Not an electric one, as really I don't have enough need for that, and besides I thought the exercise would be good for me!

It's now stashed in the shed waiting for an opportunity to extract.

Next job is to remove a couple of supers, if I can, to reduce the boxes on the hives over winter - then some mite management in a couple of months - oxalic acid crystals vaporized in the hive in late December...

Dave and I may even move the hives to a new location in the winter.

Lots to do and consider even now!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Harvest Time!

Working away from home and going on holiday certainly don't do much for keeping the blog up to date!  The late summer was fairly uneventful and Dave and I finally managed to harvest, mostly in August, and we got a reasonable haul!

All in all the current count is about 54 kgs, or 120lbs, which I'm really quite chuffed with. It took a while to get all the labels for the jars sorted out but the following photos I think do the product justice.

I managed to source a few Muth jars as well as my favourite hexagonal 12oz and 1lb jars.  My great thanks goes to colleague Fiona in Salford who put up with me badgering her to help me with the design of the labels and I think she came up with some wonderful ideas!  

There were just enough jars even to sell through a couple of local shops - Apothacary27 in Wey Hill Haslemere and the Haslemere Wine Cellar in West Street.  Most gratifying of all however is the trade I did with Dylan's Ice Cream.  They have made a couple of flavours... "HoneyHoneyDontStop" (a pure honey flavour) and "Bumblebee" which is a chocolate and honey ripple with crunchy honeycomb pieces in it. The latter will be available at the Haslemere Food Festival tomorrow (23 September 2017) on Lion Green. Come and try some while you can!

And earlier today I was up winterizing the bees and I think I will be able to harvest another 25 pounds or thereabouts.  This is after leaving a at least a single full supers on each of my 4 hives.  

So I may do some cut comb or even some jars of honey & nuts... watch this space.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hot Hive!

It's been a while since I've had one of these! Fortunately I was warned in advance.

Dave tried the other day to put a bee escape on the hive under the supers but was beaten back almost before he started.

So prewarned, I tried. Two thick layers under the suit, plus taped up gloves and I was ready. I was suiting up close to the hive and it was barely 5 minutes before I was being bombed; I hadn't even started to get ready and wasn't fully dressed!

So I heavily smoked the hive - not sure if that made things better or worse! When I cracked the top of the hive I straight away had bees on me. But I managed to lift 3 supers off, put an empty one back, then the bee escape, then two full supers and then the cover - all the time repeating the mantra "keep calm, keep calm". As soon as I was done I walked off in the opposite direction of my car and through bushes. Some bees were very persistent and one even got into my veil somehow.  I think past a zip but I'll need to double check for holes!

Anyway I got away with it - no stings - but I am not really looking forward to removing the two supers now!  But I'll grin and bear it somehow!