I really feel Spring just might have arrived. It is such a beautiful sunny day – the daffodils are out and I have been watching great tits going in and out of the bird box. So much earlier than in previous years. There doesn’t seem to be much activity around the other boxes yet. Also I’ve been a bit worried about lack of frogspawn – there has been masses in the pond at the apiary for quite a while so I thought the fox and ‘Flossie’ from next door had probably seen off the frogs. But no, about a week ago, there must have been a great deal of activity as the pond has more spawn now than we have ever had before.
On Sunday I went along for my weekly visit to the bees – it was lovely, the sun was out and it felt like Spring. There was a wren pottering about and it was singing its little heart out. Also, a little field mouse pottering around under my hive, eating I don’t know what (very sweet, but I’ll keep the mouse guards on a bit longer).
I’ve been a bit worried about when to remove the super that I added last September. Back then I had thought there were too many bees to reduce the hive to just the brood box – I’ve no idea whether or not it was the right thing to do – but that’s what I did.
My mentor – who shall be called G – thought it was warm enough to remove it. It was so straightforward – there were barely any bees in the super and they were easy to shake off. There is a little granulated ivy honey in some of them but I don’t think it will be an issue. One had quite a lot of it so I have taken advice – soaked it briefly in water and put it back in an eke. Hopefully they will take the honey down below as it should be a bit softer now. I’ll put the rest of the frames in the freezer .
After a long time spent deliberating the pros and cons of keeping a beehive, last year I became the proud owner of a colony of bees.
I’m not sure when a beekeeping year starts or ends, but I have decided that March is a good time to begin writing down what goes on as I look after my many thousands of honey bees. As I have learned a lot from reading what other people have had to say about their bees – the ups and downs – I thought that I could contribute the challenges and (hopeful) successes of my journey as an urban beekeeper. I am still very new to this but there is much to learn and much to enjoy.
I am keeping them in an apiary with about half a dozen other experienced beekeepers. This suits me very well as I don’t think I would have had the confidence to keep them in the garden. And I am not sure that neighbours with young children would have been that pleased either! All the beekeepers that I have met so far have been so patient and so willing to share their knowledge. Confidence is all important, as is listening to others. Mind you, there are no hard and fast rules (well there are some) and every question seems to elicit quite a range of opinions.
When it comes to enjoyment, there is much to recommend. The simple pleasure of taking time out, sitting in a beautiful, quiet place, with bees buzzing around in the sun or just watching these fascinating little creatures as they get on with their extraordinary short lives has been a wonderful addition to my life.
One of the concerns at this time of year, especially as it has been a bit chilly of late, is do they have enough to eat. Hefting the hive is all very well, but it takes a bit of getting used to. I think mine are OK but I may need to give them a little something this weekend.
However, as I start my second year, I realise I have already learnt that there are some things I wanted to change for my own benefit as much as for the bees’. For example, last year I learned that it can be quite a strain on the back inspecting heavy frames. So, I have started this year by raising my hive up a little bit higher. It looks a little stark at the moment but no doubt will soon bed in and hopefully my back will prefer it too.
One gets lots of advice, but I think the best bit I have been given this month is:
Never take chances. Always take a little extra time to be properly dressed and properly equipped.