On Saturday, a beekeeping class was held here on the farm and in our apiary. Bruce was teaching the class and said hubby and I could join in. The course is generally held over 2 days but was crunched into 1 which made it a bit overwhelming for the beginners but everyone went away with some good information, lots of motivation and a trick or 2 to make beekeeping that little bit easier.
We started in the training room listing to some theory.
It’s always good to listen to an expert, but it’s even better to go out into the apiary with an expert for a bit of show and tell. We broke up into 3 groups to open the hives and check out a few things.
We found our queens and put them in cages to keep them safe then spent a bit too much time in the hives poking around learning. I’m sure the poor bees just wanted us to leave them alone but they were very nice and didn’t sting, just felt sorry for themselves I imagine.
The least lucky hive was forced into a (very tiny) artificial swarm so we could practice catching one. Under that little cluster of bees is a queen in a cage tied to a branch. They must be wondering why she left their nice, warm home in the middle of winter!
Since my last post about a dying colony, we lost another one. I talked with Bruce about this and he wasn’t overly concerned but did acknowledge that it isn’t great to lose so many requeened hives. The hives we checked were all healthy but much smaller than you’d expect at this time of year. The pesticide poisoning is probably to blame. They all have plenty of stores, no signs of disease, no pests, just are weak. Bring on the spring is all I can say.
In the course I met a couple of local women who are keen to get going with honey bees and I think Frank and I will be mentoring them. This is one of those unforseen consequences of becoming a beek, you meet some great people and find yourself one day moving beyond asking, learning and soaking up all the knowledge you can, to sharing, advising and helping people who are not quite as experienced in the world of bees as you are. Listening to an expert is great, show and tell is better, having a mentor is best.
I remember when you got your first hive, what a journey it has been. so nice that you are closing that circle and mentoring new bee keepers 🙂
In some ways it feels like I just started keeping bees, in some ways it feels like I’ve been doing it forever.
I was at a bee day yesterday and saw a lot of different hives including the old ones. Thinking back them they destroyed a lot of the hives to get to the honey and only over wintered a few, so I suppose losing a few to the caprices of nature is better. The other thing that is striking me is that so many people in the country areas used to keep bees. Amelia
It used to be a part of country life but, like you say, before Langstroth discovered bee space, they had to destroy the hive to rob the honey. It so much better now to replace the honey comb and leave the brood intact. I somehow think the bees would still prefer to be left alone, but they don’t seem to mind too much.
So privileged that you will be our mentors as I feel you good folks have so much to share in a genuine and caring manner. You also live so close which makes me feel as if we are building a bee community in the Hawkesbury.
We’re kind of evangelical about bees so helping people get their feet wet with bees is our privilege. Let’s hope we are up to the task with your 35 year old hive. I have a feeling we might end up learning a few lessons ourselves when we pry off the lid and see what those clever, industrious bees have done.
Very definitely mentoring is best, and not just in beekeeping!
So what kind of weather do you have now, and what kind of weather do the bees need to strengthen the hives’ health?
It’s raining like crazy now and we’ve had heaps over the past week. The bees love what all of us love, regular rain at night and bright sunshine (but not too hot) during the day. Is that asking for too much? Really, the bees like whatever the flowers like because if the flowers are blooming and full of nectar and pollen, the bees thrive.