Beekeeping At the Quakers 2021

Second year of Covid 19

It’s been a very strange season of beekeeping. In fact the BBKA (British Bee Keeping Association) has sent a message around about mixed reports of the season. They have asked members to send in details of swarms and honey harvest.

My year began in January when I checked on the two colonies for stores. Just in case I fed them some fondant. In February I checked and all fondant had beentaken. Both colonies seemed fine after the winter.

By April I was writing (in my inspection records) that both colonies were ‘bouncing’. This is where things started to alter. By June the smaller colony showed signs of swarming so I split them. No swarming and nice box of baby bees for another beekeeper.

There is an old beekeeping rhyme about the worth of swarms:

A swarm in May is worth a bale of hay
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly

Obviously this was written long before global warming; we can have swarms in August and I’ve even heard of swarms September nowadays.

On June 16th I was called out to a local swarm. I collected it and rehived it in my garden.

Harvest time was awful. The smaller colony had barely enough stores to see them through the winter. This wasn’t helped by them being under attack by wasps. The larger colony had enough for me to take some honey for friends and family and to pay my my tithe to the Quakers.

Going into winter I have three colonies. Two at the meeting house and one at home. The strange weather in October has seen bees still flying. One of the Quaker colonies is fine, plenty of store and a strong colony. The other is okay. They have suffered by being under attack but they haveenough stores and I’ve fed them extra fondant.

My garden girls are settled and secure for the winter.

I’m hoping that next season will be better in terms of harvest and I have already invested in two waspinators (harmless fake wasp nests that make wasps think the area is already inhabited by another colony) for the Quaker garden. One thing you can say about beekeeping is there is never a dull moment.

Sue Hornby

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