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, 18 August 2012

Apiary Inspection - 14/08/2012

The weather was nice, Steph was at work, I wasn't and Lauren was at the child minders so the time was right to do my inspection. I went up to the allotment and had a walk over to the apiary where there were loads of Bees coming and going from 2 of my hives, and absolutely none coming from the other. The one that didn't have activity has been getting worse each time I've visited so I wasn't surprised to see no activity. The borage that is growing next to the apiay is doing extremely well, almost to the point where it is overtaking any weeds in the area! Below is the first video I took of my Bees foraging on borage.

Once I'd finished with my borage video I got suited up and entered the apiary and started working on my first hive; the hive with no Bees coming out of it. Once opened I was gutted, but not surprised, to find there were no Bees at all in the hive and all the stores were empty. Some of the comb had been damaged which probably means wasps have been and robbed the hive. There still were a few wasps  flying about trying to get a sugary treat. I moved as much of the hive out of the apiary with the wasps following me and placed it a short distance away to be delt with later.

The next hive was a lot better but still not perfect. There were plenty of Bees and brood, and I saw the Queen (Bee-atrix) but there is still an awful lot of comb that they just haven't drawn out yet. I believe this to be down to the bad weather we've had all year; it takes a lot of carbohydrates or sugars to make wax. I decided that I will heavily feed them from now to give them a better chance of building up before winter.

The last hive was very very similar to the last, the only differance was that there was slightly more stores and it was Queen Bee-linda who was on show. Again I will give them a good amount of feed before winter and again hope they survive. I didn't know what to do with the first hive I removed from the apiary that had all the drawn out comb in it. I finally decided to make my surviving hives bigger; now I have one hive with a double brood chamber and the other has 2 supers. This may have been the wrong thing to do but if I feed them lots from now hopefully they will fill out and occupy the new space. When everything was closed up I took another video of the borage forage which is below.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Emley Show 2012

Although the title of this post is Emley Show 2012 I am going to start by giving a quick update on some other things I've been doing. Since my last post I have been to see my bees but there was nothing new to report that warranted a full post, I still have 2 hives doing well and 1 not doing as well. Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to give a better update on them. I have also been busy with my homebrew and have caught up with racking all my wine as well as making and bottling a 40 pint batch of bitter; that just needs leaving for a few weeks to mature then we can drink it.

Onto the main subject of this post, The Emley Show. For my readers who haven't heard of the Emley Show more details can be found here. It is basically an agricultural and craft show which feature classes in honey, jam, vegetables, animals and other crafts. Being that I have recently harvested some honey from my bees I made the decision to enter 1 of the honey classes; I would have entered more classes but didn't have enough honey to do so, hopefully next year will be different. As I was entering something, Steph decided she would have a go also and made some red gooseberry and elderflower jam to enter in the jam category.

As we both had entries we had to get up early to enter them. We left our daughter at home with Steph's aunt, who had stayed the night to allow us to get there early without having to worry about getting a toddler ready also! Upon arrival to the area of the show we hit heavy traffic which was entering the site and I was fearful that we wouldn't make it in time to enter our exhibits. Once we were parked up we went straight for the honey tent as closing time for entrants was half an hour earlier than for jam. When we arrived at the honey tent there were several familiar faces from my association running the stalls. I was a few minutes past closing time but they let me off and accepted my entry. They even assisted me putting the labels on correctly, making sure they were the correct distance from the bottom and on straight. The class I entered required 2 1lbs jars of any type of honey from a novice beekeeper. After we had entered mine we rushed over to the craft tent where the jam class was being held and entered Steph's jar of jam (in my opinion hers was the best presented as some people were using old jars with plastic lids, Steph was using brand new jars. That's my opinion anyway).

When we had entered our exhibits we took the short drive home to pick up Aunt Lyn and our daughter. Upon re-arriving at the show there was a quick downpour of rain so we scrambled to get the rain cover over Lauren's buggy, then within a few minutes of it starting to rain it stopped again! I was really expecting it to be like this all day but thankfully it stopped and was nice for the rest of the day (a little too nice to be honest, Steph got sunburnt!). When we were all in the show ground the first thing we saw were some sheep. We next walked up into the main area and on the way we saw some rather large bulls. We decided to have a quick bite to eat at the venison stall, I had the special of the day which was a wild boar sausage with venison liver and bacon. It was OK but it was the first time I've eaten liver in years and thought it was a bit dry, though I wasn't too bad either.

After lunch we had a wander around looking at the various craft stalls and the honey tent where they had the observation hive. They were giving out stickers to any one who could see the Queen. I'm not sure if Lauren saw the Queen but she got a sticker anyway. They hadn't judged the honey yet so we left to continue looking around. In another tent there were the poultry classes so we had a look at the various chickens, bantams, cockerels and ducks. It's amazing how many different varieties there are but I didn't see any ex battery hens like ours, in the future it would be nice to see this and then we could have entered one of our ginger ninjas! We also had a look at the rabbits that were in the next tent. Outside were stalls selling ducks and chickens, I was so tempted to buy some Indian runner ducks but resisted.

After a long day we returned to see if we had won anything. We went to the tent was that had Steph's jam. Unfortunately she hadn't won a prize, though the winning jam was also red gooseberry, next year maybe! Afterwards we headed over to the honey tent where I was delighted to find that I had won first prize! I was over the moon as that meant I could now call my honey prize winning. I received a red rosette and certificate which hopefully in years to come will be joined by many more!...... Now for the honest part. Although I did win first prize it wasn't as big an achievement as you may think as I was the only entrant! And it was the novice class but in my defence although the only entrant I did spend the time and effort to prepare my honey for show and we spoke to someone there who said that it was a very good effort and not far off being able to compete in the main classes. He gave me a few pointers for next year so watch out, next year could be mine!

All in all it was a thoroughly good day out and I would recommend it to anyone. I will certainly be returning next year if I am not working and if I am I will try to book time off. One thing we will be doing next year is entering more classes, some of the vegetable classes only had a single entrant so next year we intend to provide more competition! I have included a few photos below. I have slightly changed the layout to include a Facebook like button at the bottom, feel free to like it if you enjoyed reading!
Lauren Again
Lauren Yet Again!
My prize winning honey!
Lauren and Ducks!
Lauren, Lyn, Ducks and Chooks!
I soooooo wanted to take these home!
Emley Show 2012
Prize winning honey again!