Start of 2018 spring and I thought I would have enough equipment ready from all the building I was doing through winter, however after a few swarms from my hives and learning to do hive rescues with members of the public, I’ve found myself with 30 hives accidentally. You may ask how this sort of thing happens, but it is just life with bees. Queens produce 2000 eggs a day which is one side of a frame each and every day… rain, hail or shine. Which means even when I can’t get into the hives because of rain, she is still laying eggs like crazy and needs the room to do so. Therefore a few hives have gotten away from me early in the swarm season and I’ve had to collect them from nearby trees. The honey eaters are switching from honey on porridge to honey on crumpets and Weetbix. I have been focusing on producing honeycomb from my Yandina hives to try to pick up some of the demand from fruit and vege shops. All in all lots of fun in the field with the girls and heaps of time in the honey shed building things to keep up with spring!! A welcome addition to the team in early 2018 was Craig. Finally a fella with an interest in bees.
As the end of 2018 is brought to a close, I feel as though the steaming hot days will not end. It’s been challenging adjusting to 35 degrees (outside the beesuit) for 6 hours of paddock time through summer. The business currently still has 30 hives, all of which are all building into their honey supers nicely. I’ve found myself in a steady rhythm with pulling honey frames and extracting, now that I have built enough hive equipment to keep up. There has been awesome feedback on my honeycomb blocks and I managed to find a reusable container that has a tamper proof seal, so that the honeycomb container is not a one use plastic (very happy about this). December has seen the business starting to do a few market stalls with a hope to increase this in the new year, so that regulars can get to know my local honey and products. This quarter I’ve had lots of fun getting lip balms, deodorant pastes, beard balms and hand balms ready for Christmas. Loving life, that’s for sure. Merry Christmas everyone.
Summer was awesome with the bees this year because I’ve done a lot of the building of boxes and frames in the last 2 years, so the frantic building of gear to have ready for swarms or unexpected splitting of hives was ready and waiting in the gear room. I tell you that it made such a huge difference. There was 1 unexpected hive loss over the summer months that was taken by wax moth. They were fine for one inspection and then 2 weeks later they were completely empty and the box was full of wax moth. So they had either absconded or been overrun by the moth if they didn’t have enough bee numbers to tackle it. I’ll never know. The little possum box swarm didn’t make it either. They never had the strength to build new wax and even after adding bee numbers into the hive they continued to decline. I bought 2 queens from a queen breeder to replace 2 two year old queens that had never re-queened themselves and were in decline. One promptly swarmed taking my beautiful new queen with them…..oh bees. I sold Mum’s FlowHive in January as she started to develop the beginnings of an allergy and they moved to a beautiful farm in Maleny. However after much nagging she now has a new nucleus hive for her garden as she wasn’t happy with the number of bees landing on her lavender when the hive wasn’t in her back yard.
I’m heading into autumn with 25 hives that seem to be nice and strong. I’ll be focusing through Autumn on making sure all the hives have fresh foundation wax sheets in the brood box so the queen has clean cells to lay in over winter. That way she can hit the ground running come early August when the days start to get hotter again. I’ll also be checking all the hives to ensure they have enough honey stores through the cooler months. I like to leave 2 frames of honey for every brood frame…remembering that they will often insulate the brood with honey on the sides of the hive.
What have I been up to leading into winter. The end of another season. The mead is starting to mature. The beevac is done. Cavity wall hives through winter. Steritech nuc boxes ready for spring. Do all the bookkeeping for end of year. Ensure I have enough honey supply for the winter porridge eaters.
I’ve been very careful pulling frames out when I’m in the brood as it is more difficult to get replacement queens at this time of year. I’ve learnt some valuable lessons around bee space this quarter. How to approach the hive with a deep hum and an outstretched hand so that the hive can sense my calm, how the bee space between the frame is exactly 2 bee body widths apart so that the bees can feel the vibration of communication through the wax frames,
They never cease to amaze me. Winter is a perfect time to learn and read about bees to increase my knowledge ready for spring.