A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Beekeeping Course: Week 2

Yesterday was the second week of the course. Again we were lucky with the weather and managed an apiary visit. Once we'd all suited up we went over to the apiary. While on the way up to the apiary I got talking to another guy on the course and found out he already had Bees, but also kept chickens, ducks and pigs but has no pigs at the moment; I was pleased to find out that he actually lives in the same village as me so next week I may ask for his contact details and maybe arrange a visit to his apiary if he is up for it. When we got to the apiary we were split into 2 groups; this week I was in Ivor's group.

We approached the first hive and Ivor puffed some smoke into the hive to relax the Bees. We had been warned that this week the Bees could be more aggressive than last week; this is due to most of the oil seed flowers going this week, meaning the Bees have to look a bit harder for pollen and nectar. Upon opening the hive it was apparent that the Bees were calmer than expected. Once the hive was opened and the supers removed, Ivor carefully removed the Queen excluder, checking that she wasn't on its underside. We then had access to the brood chamber. We removed the frames one by one inspecting them as we were going. In the first hive we were unable to find the Queen, but there were capped Queen cells possibly indicating that the previous Queen was no longer in the hive and the Bees were replacing her. We then moved on to the second hive and we were able to find the Queen so all was in order.

The third hive that we inspected was a fairly weak hive, with a new Queen. As we were looking in this hive, Ivor told us not to expect to see eggs yet, due to the age of the Queen, but that she should start laying soon. After Ivor had inspected the first two frames within the brood chamber he asked if anyone else would like a turn. The guy I was talking to earlier had a go; after he had inspected a couple of frames, another person had a look and then it was my turn. I was rather excited as it was my first time handling Bees! Using the hive tool provided, I separated a frame from the brood box and carefully lifted it to eye level to inspect. I was surprised at how heavy it was. I could clearly see stores of pollen and a couple of worker Bees emerging from their cells. In all I inspected two frames.

After the inspections were completed, we went back into the classroom for a tea break. After that there was a short talk from Val about what Bees collect and what they produce. They collect nectar which is turned into honey; the Bee's source of carbohydrate. They also collect pollen which is stored for the Bees proteins; and propolis, which is a resin gathered from plants and is used as a glue. She also mentioned a number of Bee friendly plants, but these have been recorded in a previous post.

After this discussion, Ivor demonstrated how to construct frames for inside the hive. I was please to see that the finished result looked like the frames I created. He also constructed a brood box from a flat-pack kit, that also resembles the one that I built. At this stage we realised that we had over-run, so we packed up and I went home to my better half and the curry that she had ordered. I'm looking forward to the next part of the course.