All posts by Gimlet

Irish Hedgerow Destruction

Everytime you see a severed stump, or more commonly a row of severed stumps like this – imagine the lovely flowering trees that once stood there and ask yourself who could do such a thing and more importantly why.

Badly cut hedge
Badly cut hedge

Hedges like these are not the exception  in this country – they are the rule and when you consider the number of trees subjected to this abuse it’s no wonder we’ve got a biodiversity meltdown!

And why on earth was this tree cut? It’s the only one left!

The last tree in the hedge

Look at this brutal mess.

Massacred Hedge
Massacred Hedge

If mature trees are decapitatated then cut to the knuckle year after year they cannot flower and they cannot fruit. No flowers and no fruit means no pollinators and no birds. It’s very simple isn’t it?

Furthermore – this annual savagery slowly kills the hedge as the height is reduced year after year and those poor shredded stumps cannot heal properly so fungal diseases get in leading to rot and death. Eventually you are left with a gappy  hedge consisting of elder and grass. Lovely.

Hedges need to be at least 2 metres tall or birds can’t nest in them.  If they are too low to the ground,  predators can reach into the nests and take the young.  They also need cover above the nest or crows will walk along that lovely flat top and take the eggs or the young birds.

If a hedge is encroaching onto a road then lightly trim the sides there’s no need to cut the bloody top off.

Let’s not forget that hedges are carbon sinks but only if you let them grow. The taller they get the more water they will use so there will be less waterlogging and less soil washed into the rivers. The list of benefits is very long and I’ve hardly started.

A couple of links here for further reading:

Bee Trees – Hawthorn

https://www.thejournal.ie/shear-force-article-2-5358956-Feb2021/

https://www.noteworthy.ie/nw-shear-force-pt1-5359014-Feb2021

Beeswax Fillings

You know that feeling –  happily munching on the sourdough and marmite breakfast toast when suddenly there’s a stone clattering about in the mix. How can this be?

If you are young and your teeth are white and shiny – then there probably is a stone in the mix and as long as you don’t crunch it – all will be well.

However, if you are not so young and your teeth are rickety like mine – there’s probably a lump of dentistry in there. And you know what that means don’t you. Dentist is what it means. Usually.

However, for us  beekeepers there is another possible, albeit temporary solution. Read on…

Continue reading Beeswax Fillings

The Sun Hive & How to Make One

When left to their own devices and given a hollow tree, honey bees create a colony that is round in cross section and oval in long view – egg shaped in other words. But our hives are all square.

Are we trying to force a round peg into a square hole?

A straw sun hive, allows honey bees to be themselves and build a warmer egg-shaped home. Here’s how to make one.

Continue reading The Sun Hive & How to Make One

Green pollen?

Towards the end of the season you will probably have observed bright green pollen loads coming in – like this. Please excuse poor photo.

Green pollen loads

If you ask your local beekeeper, he or she is likely to tell you that it is meadowsweet. However, if you doggedly search the drifts of meadowsweet in your locale for a bee with full pollen baskets, you will see that the pollen they are carrying is actually a creamy yellow. See photo below:

Continue reading Green pollen?

How to Prepare Bees for the Heather

Apart from the weather, the most important element to ensuring a crop of heather honey is the strength of the colony.

To maximise your chances of success – your heather stocks should have:

  • A new queen;
  • A huge army of workers;
  • Ample stores.

It can be difficult to find colonies towards the end of the summer with all three attributes but there is a relatively simple all-in-one way to prepare in advance. Continue reading How to Prepare Bees for the Heather

Queen Rearing Timetable for Cloake Board & Jenter Kit

It’s easy to get confused when setting up your queen rearing – I know – I’ve been there.

But don’t panic, this simple-to-use timetable/diagram below  is for queen rearing using the Cloake board method with a Jenter kit. However, if you prefer to graft or the queen won’t play ball with the Jenter – all is not lost – just graft the smallest larvae you can find on day 8 and all should be well.

Good luck!

By the way, the header photo is of the Lewis chessmen – found on the island of Lewis, Scotland in 1831. They were made from walrus tusks and whale teeth in Norway or perhaps Iceland in the 12th century.

Their queen rearing is not going well. He thinks she’s to blame. She thinks she’s to blame. Meanwhile the bishop wonders if it could be something to do with his grafting tool. It does look a bit on the clonky side.

Click the timetable for a bigger picture. Continue reading Queen Rearing Timetable for Cloake Board & Jenter Kit

Perfect Supersedure

Supersedure is a characteristic of the native Irish honey bee. It is where the bees replace an ageing or waning queen without swarming.

Perfect supersedure is where the old honey bee queen obligingly remains in-situ, laying to the best of her abilities, until the new queen is up and running – before gracefully fizzling out.

This is a sought-after trait for obvious reasons and if you find it in one of your colonies you should definitely factor it in to your bee improvement assessments. Click here for Bee Improvement and to download Assessment sheets.

Here are some fuzzy photo’s of a perfect supersedure in one of our hives yesterday (20.5.19)

Native Irish Honey Bee Supersedure

Click here for Fighting Queen Bees

Click here for Piping Queen Bees

Click here for How to Improve your Bees

Click here for more about the life cycle of honey bees

Click here for more about the Queen Bee

Click here for Swarm Control

Click here for Swarm Prevention

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Skep Making Course 2019

Skep making course with Jane Sellers at Ashford Heritage Centre, Saturday 16th March 2019 from 10.00am – 5.00pm.
Price – around €80 depending on numbers. This includes full instruction and sufficient materials (long stemmed wheat straw and rattan binding) to complete a standard size swarm skep 11”x13″.

Tools will be provided but bring scissors, and a bodkin if you have one.

Four Bee Skeps, small domed grass, small domed oaten straw, two swarm skeps
Tea and Coffee will be available but please bring your own packed lunch.
Please note – skep-making is time consuming. During the course of the day you will learn how to make a skep. You might not complete it, but you will leave with the know-how and materials to finish it at home.
Please also note – there are maximum of 10 places available so if you are interested please email info@janesbees.ie to book your place.
Swarm skep made from flowering stems of purple moor grass
Swarm skep made from flowering stems of purple moor grass