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June Update

We are in the last week of June and today (22nd) we’ve had cold wind and rain coming from the east – whatever happened to ‘blazing June’?

Despite the atrocious weather we did have a well attended Moray Beekeepers meeting and Andrew Tassell gave an informative talk on varroa and then demonstrated the various methods of treating the mite. There are quite a few newcomers looking for bees but none of us has collected a swarm this season and many of the ‘wild’ colonies died out over the winter.

I managed to harvest about 80lb of honey from the Oil seed rape which is below average but I’m not complaining as at least I’ve still got bees.

Because of the lack of swarms I have been experimenting with Queen rearing but without much success as yet. The sealed Queen cells I placed in the 8 mini nucs in May resulted in just 1 mated Queen so the remaining 7 were united to make 4 nucs and again given a sealed Queen cell. I will be having a look at them next week to see if we have any success.

After the swarming attempts at the rape I have ended up with 8 colonies of differing strengths and  each has been given a gallon of syrup to help them through the ‘June gap’

My plan is to help them to build up and then select 6 of the strongest for moving to the heather at the end of July.

If I am successful with the mini nucs I intend giving them to new beekeepers as well as not so new beekeepers who lost their bees over the winter.

I really must get to grips with my digital camera becuase this site is really boring without any photos!

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May Update

I went into winter with 9 hives of bees, 6 Smiths and 3 Langstroths, and I managed somehow to get them all through into spring (I sold off my 3 Langstroth colonies in early April). Many of my beekeeping friends have lost colonies (some reports up to 100%, i.e. 16 losses out of 16, others up to 50%) and some of these are very experienced beekeepers so I am thankful that mine are OK at present.

I took 4 of my hives to the Oilseed rape in April and have extracted 35lb of honey so far. Although the weather has been bright and sunny, we have had a cold easterly wind for a few weks and I think this has curtailed the honey production, as I would normally expect more than this from 4 strong colonies.

One of the problems with taking bees to the Oilseed rape is that they buld up quickly and this inevitably leads the bees to begin swarming preparations. I found Queen cells in 3 of my OSR hives so I have removed the Queen from each hive, along with some bees and  brood, and left 1 sealed Queen Cell. If all goes well and the new Queen manages to mate I should have new laying Queens in about 2 more weeks.

QUEEN REARING

As there are many colonies dying (both feral and managed) I have had a go at rearing some Queens, as this seems to be the only way to get any increase this season. I removed 10 sealed Queen cells from a couple of hives and then split one of my other hives I keep at home, to make up 8 mini nucleus boxes. Each mini nuc was given a sealed Queen cell and transported 4 miles away to my friends apiary where the emerged virgin Queens should mate with his drones. I’ve never done any Queen rearing before so I will be interested to see what happens.

Will be checking out the mini nucs and my OSR hives tomorrow, weather permitting.

 

welcome

This is my second full season as a beekeeper and now that I have recovered from the shock of looking after 8 colonies of bees in my first year (I always bite off more than I can chew!) I now have time to keep a blog of my beekeeping adventures in the highlands of Scotland.

There are not many feral (wild) colonies of honeybee left in the U.K. or Europe as they continue to be decimated by disease, pests and modern farming practices.

I think it was Einstein who said that if the honey bee disappeared from the earth then mankind would only last a further 4 years.

Frightening eh! That’s why beekeepers have a vital part to play in sustaining the honeybee and saving the planet.