Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Friday, 30 May 2014
|The 3 sample honey's I bought at Marsaxlokk|
|Inside one of the apiary caves - The bees would have been kept in these upturned jars.|
|More inside the cave.|
|The apiary site from outside.|
|Yet another inside the caves.|
|A different apiary site in same area.|
|Bees and a beetle on a flower.|
|I think this is my favorite!|
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
|Steph tending the smoker|
|Lots of full frames of honey|
|All capped and ready to go|
|Using a sharp knife I sliced the cappings off|
|My brand new extractor - the plastic protective layer has since been removed|
|More cappings sliced off|
|The extractor takes 4 frames at a time|
|Honey and bits of wax going into a 2 stage strainer|
|A part bucket of honey 2 days after extraction, it has set solid!|
|The full bucket of honey - again set solid. There's approximately 15 kg in there!|
|After vigorously beating and stirring the set part bucket of honey I was able to get it soft enough to put some in jars.|
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
The first chance I got to go to see the Bees I was especially lucky to have my wife with me to help as once I'd opened the first hive it was clear that we were going to be taking lots of honey from the hives. The first colony I checked had the most and I still didn't take it all. I think I took approximately 12 frames from the first hive. When I moved onto the second hive it was clear there wasn't as much honey to take but there was still about another 8 frames! Between me and Steph we got the job done quite fast; Steph operating the smoker and passing me equipment while I shook the Bees off the frames and took them to the side to be taken away later. I also did a quick inspection while in the hives and couldn't find any queen cells, although there was a huge amount of Bees therefore they could be near to swarming.
After we had finished in the hives we headed off home with 2 supers mostly full of honey. I was unable to lift them together and lifting them 1 at a time was a struggle. The next problem was extracting it. The same day I had a WPBKA committee meeting and there I discussed with another member the use of her extractor however while in the meeting I got a notification on my phone telling me I'd been the highest bidder in an auction for an extractor! The extractor arrived 2 days later and I cracked on with extracting the honey. I will put the extraction process in another post.
Monday, 5 May 2014
Over the last week I have been contacted twice by members of the public who believe they have Bees in their house or garden. The first one wasn't sure what kind of Bees they were but they had made a nest in the eaves of his new property and his builders wouldn't return until they had been removed. As this was fairly close to where my mother in law lives and my daughter was staying with her that night I informed the gent that I would pop round and have a look for myself. I took equipment in case they were honey bees and I could get a new colony from them but wasn't hopeful. It turned out that they were in fact Bumble Bees but the nest had already been damaged when the builders removed the roof tile. All that was left were a few sorry looking Bees in a small huddle of approximately 5-6 Bees. I did my best to remove them but they kept flying back. The only advice I could give to the guy was that as the main nest had been destroyed then the likelyhood was that the small amount of Bees would move on soon with them not having a home or a Queen. A shame really as I knew these few Bees were actually doomed.
The second contact I had was someone who believes he has Bumble Bees in his bird box. The advice I gave him was simply to leave them if they are causing no issue as they are very unlikely to sting anyone unless they are provoked but if they have to be removed I will contact my association and see if anyone has more experience with the matter. If they can be relocated safely with minimal harm to the colony that would be preferable.
It has been quite a learning curve being the secretary of my association but rewarding as the amount I am learning and the people I am getting to meet is great. I have been contacted by a school that want someone to come and give a talk on Bees and as no one from my association has got back to me yet I may have to do this myself. Having no experience at giving a talk of this nature I am a bit unnerved but I imagine I could wing it and still come off as knowing what I'm talking about!
Lastly, I will be heading on holiday to Malta soon and hope to visit an ancient Roman Apiary site they have there. I am quite looking forward to it and hope that some locals can point me in the direction of a Maltese Beekeeper to talk to. There has to be a post about that when I come back I reckon!
|This is the original batch of apples collected while walking on common|
|apples a bit of a clean in cold water|
|Me grating up 25kg of apples in a food processor, a sticky job!|
|The grated apple put into the press and starting to squeeze out the juice|
|The first dry apple cake. These were returned to my friend to feed to his pigs|
|4 Gallons of juice|
|The dried cake after pressing|
|More pig food|
|No yeast, water or sugar added, just let the natural yeast do their thing!|
|Monitoring the gravity to see when ready|
Monday, 21 April 2014
My Bees have survived the Winter this year and they seem to be thriving. I went into Winter with 3 hives but one was very light on Bees and I never confirmed there was a new Queen mated in there, that colony didn't survive but the other 2 have. I have seen the Queen in one of the hives and the other has brood at all levels. I have already added supers as the oil seed rape is in full flower and honey has started to be stored in the brood area. I'm hoping for an ok return this year and when the swarm cells appear I'm looking to take a nucleus or 2 from the hives. With any luck I'll have at least 4 colonies going into Winter 2014.
I have recently finished (almost) building a top bar hive from some wooden boards I have. With any luck I'll get this occupied soon and report back on my findings. I have spoken to people at my association and the general consensus is that people don't like them in my area but in other areas people swear by them. In my humble opinion the best way to find out is to try it myself. The only bit I have left to complete is the actual top bars, they have been cut and just need some wax foundation to be placed into the grooves. I have looked at other options but I will try wax strips to start with and if succesful will experiment with other methods as well. One other option is string soaked in molten wax which would be easier to implement but not look as nice! The below picture is prior to the legs being attached and has also since been painted more so looks nicer. I may dedicate a fulll post to it when it is fully complete.
|Almost finished topbar hive|
From my last post I have pressed all my apples using a friends cider press and it has femermented into an almost drinkable brew. It is now bottled and maturing. The last bottle I tried was better than the first so in time I could have a decent cider. The recipe was an easy one to follow: loads of apples, pressed then left to ferment, I kept it as simple as that. No yeast, sugar or water added, just apple juice. Again, I have lots more photos so will probably do a longer post for the cider making.