Tag Archives: honey

Honey, honey, honey

Busy bees

Busy bees

The beekeeping routine of weekly hive inspections has been going on for some time now. We lost one colony early in the year, but still have three others working away. One of these we are a little concerned with, as the new queen does not appear to be laying in any quantity, and we may need to intervene with this colony. The other two, though, are doing very well. In total, we must have some 50lbs of honey in the supers, a fair bit of which has already been sealed up. This is excellent for what is still early in the season – especially here in our sheltered southerly locale, where the bees can be productive until late into the Autumn.

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Getting the bees ready for winter

Many beekeepers will have prepared their hives for winter many weeks ago. Here, in our sheltered southerly location, our bees work late into the year. Even now, they are still very busy and bringing in lots of pollen. However, with a change in the weather forecast, last week we took advantage of what turned out to be the last nice day to undertake a final inspection and make the necessary preparations. Continue reading

Honey extraction

Frame of sealed honey

Frame of sealed honey

The bees in the long deep hive have been busy and we expected to take the first honey last week, but found that it was not quite ready. The bees process the honey until the water content is just right, when it will store indefinitely, and then seal it with a wax capping, at which point the beekeeper can raid the hive and steal all of their hard work. With our bees, we leave them a hive full of honey and only take a modest surplus from the supers that they would not use during the winter. It is quite normal practice to take so much honey that the bees then need to be fed with large amounts of sugar syrup or fondant. We do not like to do that, thinking that they do better when they have honey to feed on rather than a substitute. That means, though, that we get a smaller crop than we could get, but we are only hobby beekeepers and there is no need for us to take everything. Continue reading

First hive inspection of the year

Pear blossom benefitting from the attention of the bees

Pear blossom benefitting from the attention of the bees

Although the bees have been flying now for quite some weeks, the weather has not really been warm enough to open the hives until now. Opening the hives when it is cold is not just bad for the bees, the beekeeper is quite likely to meet with some angry ladies. This week, though, was warm enough to make our first inspection of the two colonies that went through the winter. We already knew that both had survived, as we observed quite a number of bees flying during the good weather, but we had no idea what condition the colonies might be in or if the queen had survived and was laying. At this time of year, when they are only just starting to raise new brood, they are typically very weak and low on stores. Continue reading

Another colony of bees lost

Bees still bringing in lots of pollen

Today we were continuing to prepare the bees for winter. We had one colony, started earlier in the year, that was still building up; another that was looking good for the winter, having put quite a bit of stores away, although not producing any surplus for us; and the long deep hive, which had packed away over 100lbs of honey in the brood area. The odd thing about our location is how long the season extends. Many beekeepers will have prepared their hives for winter weeks ago, and honey removed by the end of August. In our sheltered southerly location, our bees persist in carrying on as though winter is yet months away. In the most recently started colony, they are still working at full speed, bringing in large amounts of pollen from various sources. As they have only had half of the season to build up for winter, we have been feeding them with sugar syrup for the last few weeks; we considered that there was still time for them to process one more liquid feed before we change to slabs of fondant. Continue reading

A big surprise in the hive

Dad’s homemade long deep hive

Today we checked on the bees in the long deep hive. Whilst they had built up a huge colony, we were nonetheless a little concerned about how much stores they had put away, as last year they ate through them very quickly before winter had properly set in and needed additional feed to survive. We usually inspect colonies once per week, but as this is a somewhat disruptive process, we only do so where necessary. Aside from checking the general health of the colony, the main reason for such inspections during the summer is so that measures can be taken if necessary to discourage swarming. For some rather inexplicable reason, this colony showed no inclination to swarm, even though there was a very large number of bees and most frames were filled with brood. So, we left them somewhat to their own devices, making only cursory checks and keeping an eye on the honey production in the supers. When we last looked at the supers, though, we were a little suspicious that they may have been moving honey down into the brood area. Continue reading

Getting the bees ready for winter

The season is long here in a sheltered pocket near the south coast, much longer than in other parts of the country. Our bees are still putting honey away, the heather is still in flower, although it emerged rather early this year, and the ivy and other late season plants are yet to open. It will be quite a few weeks before our bees are ready for winter, but this week Dad and I began some preparations. Continue reading

First honey harvest of the year

Busy bees bringing nectar into the long deep hive

Following a quick inspection of the conventional hives, which are doing fine, although not yet producing any surplus honey, we moved on to take our first honey from the long deep hive. This is a rather odd looking hive of my dad’s design, but similar to others of its kind. It takes deep frames, and offers a very large brood area all on one level, making inspection a little easier. It also has entrances at both ends, allowing colonies to be split and merged more readily than with a conventional hive. Continue reading

Pressing heather honey

Today I visited Mum and Dad to tackle a job we had been putting off since the end of Autumn last year, when we removed the final supers from the hives. We had harvested some honey earlier in the season that was extracted in the normal way. However, the last supers, which were only partially filled, contained a large proportion of heather honey. Our location near the western boundary of the New Forest is sufficiently close that the bees, which can travel several miles to forage, can access the heather that grows there in profusion. Continue reading