I love my bees and I started beekeeping in Spring 2015. I had done a ten week course five years beforehand but the time hadn’t been right to take on bees. It is very right now.
I find it absolutely fascinating – there is SO much to learn. I’ve been very fortunate and have an extremely experienced and incredibly kind beekeeper to guide me along my way. I keep my hive in a beautiful, peaceful suburban apiary full of native fruit trees, butterflies and beekeepers. it is the most beautiful spot and I really feel I have landed on my feet.
My first year was brilliant, I learned so much. I even ended up with about 40lbs of honey which I hadn’t been expecting. I realise, now, that was ‘beginners luck’.
My second year was far less successful – but I learnt considerably more. My colony didn’t survive the winter well – and was very weak. It was suffering from deformed wing virus and nosema. It didn’t survive, which was very sad. Then I bought a new colony but it didn’t seem to want to get going. The suppliers were very good to me and after much discussion they sent me a new queen. After that I felt much more positive. But it was a year of knowledge not honey.
During summer 2016 I took the Basic Bee Assessment – which I thoroughly recommend doing as it really focuses your mind and you realise what you know and what you think you know. I passed with credit and it has made me feel more confident in my knowledge (for a beginner). I ended that year with two weakish colonies and after much deliberationI decided to unite them. This was successful and I ended up with one fairly strong colony, which survived the winter very well and has gone from strength to strength. My plan for 2017 was to end the season with two strong colonies. I now have that – but it hasn’t stopped there and I seem to have three strong colonies and two thriving nucs. I wonder how they will do over winter. I am concerned that four hives are too much for me and I think that I should aim for three hives. I realise it doesn’t work quite like that!
This year hasn’t been straightforward, but that is how we learn. It is now September and my hives are in good shape – lets hope they are next Spring. In the meantime I am going to challenge myself and take a couple of the BBKA modules.
I wonder what fun and games next year will hold….