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Showing posts from June, 2017

Honey tasting

When it gets a bit colder and there is less to do in the hives bee keepers seem to gather inside more. We were invited to the annual honey tasting the other day. Everyone bring a jar with no labels for tasting. Its blind so nobody knows whose jar belongs to who. Honey is marked on taste, colour, appearance (might be crystallised for example) and aroma. There are two categories - set and runny.

You get a little stick - looked suspiciously like a Starbucks coffee stirrer to me - to dip into the jar and see what you think, then you mark the jars on a piece of paper and drop into a box. The winner is the jar with the overall highest score. Every year a supermarket brand is included to trick the bee keepers and see if they are true to pure non blended honey!!


 Honey set out for tasting


Blind labels












It was a great event. The honey was lovely though after a few jars you really appreciated the Wasabi nuts to refresh the palate, though it was easy to overdose on those too. 

Who won? Out of all…

Whats that wormy thing?

We went to see the bees today as we had to move the sugar solution away from them. Too much of that and the honey will taste a bit funny. Though of course this year we are unlikely to taste it ourselves so not sure what we were worrying about. The bees have to have it to see them through the winter since they have only just started this lark and need to build reserves.

They have been busy but I realised today I am not sure what I was looking at. The brood box should have eggs - Yes, saw those, Larvae - Yes, think so and capped cells with larvae growing in them, soon to become bees. Mmmm, I am not sure about those. There was lots of things going on, which I am going to have to investigate.

I am pretty sure there was honey, and capped cells but there were also black cells, bit of a worry and one cell with a funny looking worm thing in it!!!

Hubby tried to photo it but turns out you cannot get an Iphone to take pictures if you are wearing marigolds so think we missed it. We are going to …

Back on track, and the bees are hungry!

So back on track with the bees, and they have been gobbling up the sugar solution. We visited them in the week to see how things were going and added in a bit more solution. I am so impatient to sneak a peek at what is happening in there, but we have to be patient. Don't want to spook them. I am actually certain that looking at them won't do anything, I think it's just a bit of nerves, a bit like taking out your car for the first time after you pass your test. I would like it to be quiet and with no one around to look over and think 'What are they doing? Really, they are doing that now!'

There are a few pictures of them feeding, hopefully there are a few more still inside the hive.




Operation Asian House

Bees have taken a slight back seat this week as we had a far greater challenge to complete. Yes, we entered to ring to take our places in the battle of 'completing the Lego Card Collectors Book no matter what else you might have to do'.

Never before has some much depended on so little, well perhaps there was something like that might have been said around the 1940s but totally different, totally. This was nothing like a war, there was no pushing, definitely no fisticuffs.

The penultimate card exchange took place in the car park of ballet with the littlest in attendance for her first drop. All went smoothly and I co-ordinated the proceedings via Whatsapp with both parties. Only one panicked message from hubby regarding the exact colour the Audi he was looking for. I have seen those ads for M15 in the paper and I think that I do actually have all the attributes required.

The final card, number 72, was much less stressful, thanks Thomas and Nick for donating it. We are complete. …

Deadlines, deadlines

We should have visited the bees today, just to check all is well, they have enough to eat, they are settling in, checking any problems with the neighbours etc etc, but we didn't. Work got in the way today, plus it really is too hot to be wearing the kit!


We got this - see below -  from the National Bee Unit, we've got the sugar in and we are making up the solution tomorrow, we don't want to be responsible for starvation!

Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely, particularly in any splits, nucleus colonies or colonies where the entire spring honey crop was removed. In some areas of the UK, our Inspectors are concerned at finding colonies that are starving.Feed can be prepared from refined white sugar and water mixed at a 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping equipment suppliers.

They are here!! 🐝 🐝

Good news, we have a NUC! It arrived on Sunday at 9am at the apiary after the bees had been asked to come back earlier Saturday night for capture. Or at least that's how I understand it.

There are 10,000 of them, I've not counted, but seems that this is a pretty good estimate. They are beautiful, and noisy. When we got them out of Andy's car (our apiary manager) they were vibrating the box, and they sounded angry. Apparently though they were just keen to get back out. It was very hot Sunday so putting on the suits was a challenge. I was keen to get out of that so I can understand the bees mighty have been keen to exit the box.

We transferred the frames from the NUC into our hive, gently mind, as my gloves are only marigolds and I can feel the bees walking in my hands. then we checked for the queen, eggs, nectar and larvae. Everything was there, so clean and healthy looking, even the queen.

I've not seen a lot of queens but ours is beautiful, she is not that big but she…

To Nuc or not to Nuc?

So, a little bit of news. There is a Nuc ready for us if we want it. A Nuc is a mini hive, with enough eggs, larva and bees to establish a full hive. They come with a queen and it's a easy way to start things off because you have less bees to avoid being stung by and you can manage them more easily. Lots of bee keeper associations like newbies to have a Nuc as they can figure things out slowly and I get this. However, unless you are lucky enough to be given one, they are expensive. Having just bought the hive and bee suits I was hoping to rest the credit card for a bit. Swarms can be big, they might be a bit annoyed or fed up, and they are on the move. They are riskier, as they might swarm again or be temperamental. They are also free to the beekeeper, a big plus!

So, we have to decide, buy the Nuc or wait out for the swarm.


We need to feed the bees...if we had some

I would love to call myself a beekeeper. I am really doing that but I don't have any bees yet. You can't be a dog owner unless you have one so feel like I am a bit of a fraud at the moment.  However I am able to chat on about bees quite alot now, I might even be qualified enough to do a school fete with the beekeepers association and answer simple questions!

Our apiary manager suggested that when we get bees we might like to feed them. With sugar.
Now this probably makes sense to seasoned beekeepers who know that a warm snap earlier in the year woke the bees but didn't provide enough forage for them after it turned cold again, but it all sounds a bit manufactured to give them fondant! A cheaper version than the one from Lakeland I am hoping!

Of course, this is all academic, we don't have any yet! We are still non beekeepers. And anyway, I have to sort a pirate outfit for the cubs carnival float.

Looking good!

Pouring with rain today for 10 mins or so I know not best timing but that when we delivered our hive to the apiary. Moving from our lounge to the apiary is certain to increase our chances of bees taking up residence.

Note the hubby standing in the dry patch under the trees.






We left the super on, realise thats a mistake but since its currently empty not sure it matters yet.

No bee 🐝 business today

Today I had my daughter and met some friends for a play date, after school we went to gymnastics twice (both kids had a session) and I had a volunteer mentoring session by phone this evening. Missed the apriary get together at 3pm - no chance when us is the exact same time I pick up from school and will miss the association one tomorrow too as I will be at.......ballet!

When we ordered our hive I looked really hard into whether to treat it with preservative or not. We decided not to, ' it's cedar!' The message boards said, 'it won't need it!'. One said ' beehives, especially red cedar ones will last longer than the bee keeper and don't need treating'. I wonder if that because most beekeepers are retired not trying to juggle work, two young kids, home and a beehive!

That said perhaps it will wear me out and last longer than me anyway.

You doing the same as me? Would love to hear from family beekeepers!

Our hive arrived today!

Day 1 Beginning as beginners
The hive came today, we bought a fully assembled one as we don't have the skills to build it ourselves. It's in red cedar and our only regret is the bright green queen excluder as it doesn't quite match the wood. I don't remember seeing any other bright green bee excluders at the apiary on all the other hives but it was around a fiver compared to the full £14 for a steel one. We are not going to treat it with anything, until at least we get to the apiary and find out that we really should have done. 
We set the whole thing up and it looks impressive and ready to go. 
At least it might be if there was a chance of bees in the near future. The price of a NUC had me over on the floor so we are hoping for a swarm but the wet and colder weather is making this unlikely just at the moment. 


Last night I met a friend in the pub, she was late and when she arrived she told it was because she was having a swarm of honey bees removed from her house by a swa…