Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“The Bees” by Laline Paull – A review

I was given this book for my birthday and in the absence of any beekeeping activities in my life at the moment I thought it would be a good distraction.

Did I like the book?  Well, broadly yes, it kept my attention and was pretty engaging, HOWEVER you will not enjoy it if you don’t let little issues like major inaccuracies in honey bee biology and the life cycle of the bee wash over you!  The book anthropomorphises bees to the extreme which is OK, I suppose, but I found the descriptions of the inside “chambers” of the hive far too unrealistic and awfully fantasized.

The most disappointing part of the book for me was the fact that the main character, a laying worker, laid an egg that developed into a Queen!  This is just not possible and it undermines the entire story line.  I’m not sure how such a fundamental flaw crept into the plot given the preponderance of apparent experts quoted and acknowledged in the book, but it’s there nonetheless.

Summary:  If you are a beekeeper you will/should not like this book!.  If you are interested in bees I hope it switches you on to some of the many brilliantly written non-fiction books on the subject which are actually far more enthralling!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Even more confused!

Back in May I spotted some "Immitation Honey" in a local store in Kirkwood. It confused me a lot, to say the least.

Well, the store has done it again! Surpassed themselves!  I didn't think it possible to find something even more ridiculous, but then there was this on the shelf today...

WHAT? Honey in powder form?  But why? Well here is the answer...

Spot it? 

The reason is that "It's the easy way to enjoy honey at anytime, anywhere" and (look carefully) it says the goodness of honey has been preserved into a convenient powdered form...! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Back in the UK

Well, I've been back in the UK for about a week now. The weather on my first Sunday back was lovely, but the early part of last week was just grey and cold. I'm not sure if I saw the sun for 3 days. However, my spirits were lifted this weekend as it's been bright, warm and sunny!

And the bees! So many bumble bees around!  The whole place seems to be just teeming with them! It's utterly brilliant! I've noticed that the road verges don't seem particularly well maintained so there's lots of wild flowers (or is that weeds) about; you can almost (almost) perceive a background drone, but I may be imagining that just a bit.

So what of my getting restarted? Well, since I've been back I have managed to get in touch with the local Town Crier/Gardener (don't ask!) who is thinking if he knows anyone with an orchard or suitable site for 4 hives, and friends are also putting the word out that "Phil's looking for an apiary site!".

I've located a couple of local beekeepers. One is reportedly a "professional" so I can't wait to find out what that means! And I now know of 3 beekeeping clubs in the area; Farnham, Petersfield and Wisborough Green. So that means there is tonnes of potential for conflicting views and theories on keeping bees for me to wade through!  I can't wait!  Someone has already remarked, on hearing I came back from the US, that I'll have some "funny ideas about equipment"!

And word of my "hobby" has already spread around the office! To the extent that a couple of people have already asked what I have available!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Last couple of days!

I'm into my last couple of days here in Missouri; well if you exclude the week I come back for in July! All my bees are gone, my equipment sold, all I have left is a couple of tool boxes, 2 unused mating boxes and an observation beehive (empty). It's sad; the end of a chapter!

But there's a new chapter about to start and there are lots of blank pages to fill! The British Beekeepers Association has an excellent website that I can use to locate a club near me and through their swarm page I hope to find local beekeepers who can help me start up again!  

It's not a bad time of year to start again, but I'll wait until next year to get my bees. Instead I'll spend my time finding an apiary, deciding what type of hive to use,  building the equipment, researching clubs and not least adjusting to a new climate!

I'm really wanting to keep Apis Mellifera Mellifera but we will just have to see how that goes! 

So watch this space for developments!

It's been an absolute blast in Kirkwood, St. Louis. I couldn't have asked for a better group of mentors than I found at the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, and so many thanks (I cant count them all) go to my neighbour who got me started back in April 2009! Little did I realize how much fun it would have been and how much it has changed my life! Thank you Susan!

And as the slogan says...

I certainly will!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Black Locust is flowering

My friend John Pashia posted that the Black Locust tree is in bloom. This is great news as it is a very significant source if nectar in these parts.

If I remember correctly it was mid April last year (2013) that the black locust bloomed and it was fantastic then. A full week in bloom with no rain! We can only hope it's like that this year!

So get out there and super up everyone!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sting in the tail; well the neck actually

I finished beekeeping today at Ladue. My first stop was at the split I made for J├╝rgen in his beeyard. This is doing very well! You may remember it was basically Queenless in my backyard for quite a while. I relocated it, put in some eggs and brood and a couple of days after that a new queen.  When I looked in today it was filling very strongly with new larvae; probably 4 or 5 frames.  I didn't bother to find the queen!  So I reckon this needs some supers and soon!

At my apiary in Ladue the hive with the week queen I replaced has also taken well. I need to find some frames to complete a second deep and this needs to be done reasonably quickly.

The hive "north" of this was also very strong again containing plenty of brood, eggs and larvae, but no sign of any swarm cells. I put on 2 supers.

The final hive; the one I always do last in this beeyard because they are temperamental, was like the northern hive. There was plenty of brood, eggs and larvae and again no swarm cells or sign of any being made. 

The problem here was that a couple of bees somehow got in my suit and I now have a nice sting on my neck! Anyway they also deserved supers and I put on 3. Two are already drawn out the other is mostly foundation.

A good day's beekeeping and I'm now ready for a nectar flow!

Swarms and Splits.

I handed over, or at least started, the transition of my care of the bees at the Botanical Gardens this morning.

The split I made a couple of weeks ago looks good. The queen has clearly been accepted and she's started to lay. I would have hoped for more progress but at least she is laying now. Maybe the recent cold slowed her up?

The hive the split was taken from however was full of queen cells! Here are three...

I was with Jane Sueme and we decided to take the existing queen away (to simulate a swarm) and also to remove most of the other queen cells. The old queen was marked and put in a nuc box with a couple of brood frames. We left a couple of the queen cells in the remaining hive, having removed most of the others.

The cells in the photo are "spare" and I may use them in another hive, should they be needed. We hope the hive won't swarm now we have removed queen cells and that the old queen can be used elsewhere!

An interesting morning and I've not been to Ladue yet!