This Wednesday just gone was the first day of the Beekeeping course I am attending. Similar to the Beekeeping meetings I attended over the winter, I was probably the youngest there by a couple of years. As it was the first day of the course it was fairly easy going. We just went over the basics such as what each part of the hive is called and a brief history of the Honey Bee. I was fairly surprised by the amount of people on the course that already had Bees; probably about half. I got speaking to a guy from Sheffield who was on his second year of Beekeeping but had developed a bit of a problem with varroa mites so was attending the course to get more info on pest management. We also got given a folder with various booklets and a course guide.
For me the best part of the course was when we went to the apiary and had a look in a hive. This was the first time I saw inside a hive myself. We were split into 3 groups, the group I went into was for people with no experience, though there wasn't any difference in what was been shown. To start with Val, the lady hosting my group, smoked the hive entrance to calm the Bees down. After a small amount of smoke was wafted over the entrance the hive was opened; Val then talked about the various parts of the inside of the hive. She pointed out the brood including eggs, larva and capped cells, we were even lucky enough to see a Bee emerging from its cell for the first time but more importantly we saw the queen. We were showed the supers as well, which is were the excess honey is stored, but at this time of year there wasn't much honey stored up there, hopefully over the coming weeks we will see this fill up somewhat. There were various different stages of honeycomb, ranging from plain foundation that hasn't been made into cells to fully drawn out comb ready for storing nectar. I also found out that the cells are at a slight angle to stop the liquid honey from flowing out; again the Bees amaze me with their abilities!
After the hive inspection we returned to the class room and Ivor (the regional Bee inspector who is running the course) went over a few things including where to get your hive from and also gave a run down of how much a colony of Bees costs at the moment. For a nucleus colony it's currently £150 or more, which includes 5 or 6 frames of Bees and brood and a queen. As a introductory offer to new Beekeepers there will be a limited amount of nucs available for a reduced price. He also said about a limited amount of spare suits available for reduced price so may buy 1 for my dad (extra large!).
I look forward to next Wednesday and the second part of the course. With any luck the weather will continue to be good and we will see inside the hive again. I did quite enjoy the Bees flying around me from the safety of my suit!