This year has not gone quite as I anticipated - and hence the shortage of posts recently.
It started off well enough. I had two colonies which were not the strongest but I decided not to combine them and I expected them to get through the winter. Neither colony had produced enough honey for me to extract any so I left them with all of it. Both colonies got through the winter.
But it was not the success I was hoping for. In the Spring, before I could make a full inspection they left! I mean they left. When I came to check the hives both were empty - no bees dead or alive. This was clearly not a swarm - it was too early and anyway there was no way they were short of room.
It is not just in the apiary that things have not gone as planned. Instead of spending all my time in Dorset and further exploring the extensive network of footpaths in the county I am in North Wales. In fact I have just added up dates from my calendar and I have spent more time in North Wales than in Dorset this year.
Knowing this was likely to happen I decided to give practical beekeeping a break for this year until things settle down - which hopefully they will be September.
Anyway I have now found a place where I can access the Internet and I have the time to put more posts on the site so hopefully I will be able to update the site more frequently now. That is when I am not walking up Snowdon. After that anything I walk in Dorset should be a doddle!
It may seem premature to be talking of swarms when some of us have only managed a couple of full inspections but things can change very rapidly.
If you do see a swarm then do not ring our Bee Inspector. Instead check out the BBKA web site. On there you will find links to help you identify a swarm and a map to show you all the local swarm collectors.
For those of you who have not come across a swarm before here are some useful points:
Beekeepers only collect honey bees.
We do not deal with wasps
We do not deal with bumble bees.
A swarm can appear as a terrifying invasion - it is not.
The bees are looking for a new home - not a new victim!
The bees are looking after their queen.
When they have found a new home they will fly off there.
I have collected many swarms and I never been stung whilst swarm collecting.
Our ideal swarm is hanging from a branch within easy reach.
Our most difficult are those in cavity walls - high up!
Most swarms will move on within a few hours - as soon as they have found a better location.
Once we have collected a swarm we will place it in one of our hives.
As we eagerly anticipate the new season it is a time to be looking at what equipment we have, what we need and what we do not need.
A couple of our members have done exactly that and there are additions to the For Sale page. Whether you are a beginner looking to buy you first hive or an established beekeeper preparing for a bumper season there may be something there for you. Check it out.