I am Gerald Bushby (pronounced bush bee!) a beekeeper in Weston on the Green, a small village in Oxfordshire. I am going to be writing a monthly blog about the bees in my apiary. I hope you will find it interesting. I should start by saying that I am not an expert, having only kept bees for three years. Anything I say is my own personal opinion; I accept that there may often be other views and opinions.
As we enter the new year and there is little activity in the hives, I thought that I should look back at my beekeeping highs and lows of the previous year and look forward to what the new year may hold.
The beekeeping high of 2017 is well defined in my mind. It was on the 10th May. James Barnard and his colleague from 2BScientific called round to look at my bees. By chance they chose the best day of the year, a glorious spring day. The sun was shining the wind was calm and the bees were more active on that day than any other during the whole year. The nearby oil seed rape flowers were in full bloom and the bees were gorging themselves on the nectar it was producing. You can see from the photograph that the bees are arriving and departing in their thousands. The three supers on the left hand hive and the two on the right hand hive were full of honey which I extracted a few days later.
The beekeeping low of 2017 is also well defined in my mind. It happened at the beginning of July when I noticed wasps entering and leaving my Top Bar Hive rather than bees. I think what happened was that the queen was probably lost and the hive became weak and was unable to defend itself from robber bees and finally wasps took control and killed the remaining bees. The hive now stands empty and I am probably going to sell it and concentrate on keeping bees in the British Standard type of hive like my other two hives.
What does the new year hold? For me beekeeping is like so many other types of hobbies; you start small and then it starts to balloon out of control. I used to sail a few years ago. I had a main boat and then I found I also needed a smaller one to go out to the main boat and then I also needed another inflatable for use when out sailing. From only wanting one boat all of a sudden I had three. Its is similar with keeping bees. You start out only wanting one beehive. You then realise that you need a minimum of two with components that are interchangeable so that if one fails you can split the remaining hive. Then you have to split the two hives to control swarming the following year and you end up with two smaller so called “nukes” which also rapidly increase in size. It takes on a life of its own.
Then there is the honey. A casual conversation with the new owner of the village shop resulted in my agreeing to supply the shop with “a few” jars of honey to sell, to “see how it went”. 90 jars of honey later I cannot supply the demand for the honey.
This autumn I have been making a new British Standard hive along with two “nukes” with my new years resolution of returning to no more than three hives with the “nukes” available for carrying out “splits” if necessary during the summer. How many of us keep to our new years resolutions??? Time will tell.
I am a proud supporter of the ‘Bees for development’ charity, my love of the bee drew me to this wonderful UK based charity and the great work they do around the world with Bees and the impact they can have on people’s lives. Please help me support this wonderful organisation, as 2BScientific will be doing with donations to this hard-working charity.
Next time : The development of hives.