Category Archives: Things to do in January

How to improve your bees

There are all sorts of bees for sale out there – Buckfast, Carniolan, Italian, Russian, Greek – you name it but how can they possibly be  better than the locals on their home turf? Think about it, think about the risks in importing diseases and god knows what-all else. Don’t import bees – improve your own.

Click here for more information on the Native Irish Bee.

Here’s how and it isn’t difficult. In fact it’s fun and very rewarding – you will see real results year on year. We used to have some really horrible bees here and only a few hives of them but each year they would chase us round the garden. Now, in the middle of summer I have around 25 hives of bees here and stings are rare.

So make a start this year. Continue reading How to improve your bees

How to Feed a Winter Apidea

If you are overwintering an Apidea you will need to keep a close eye on the stores – especially in a mild winter when the queen may start to lay early. This one in the picture above has a double brood box and was well stocked with ivy honey in autumn but it felt a bit light so I fed it today.  If you are wondering why the air vent is left open – that’s because they have it completely propolised and I don’t want to leave the front door wide open.

Here’s what to do with the feed though: Continue reading How to Feed a Winter Apidea

Acetic Acid Fumigation

If you have old brood frames it is always a good idea to fumigate them before using them again to kill Nosema spores and wax moth. However,  be sure they don’t come from a hive where the bees died of AFB. If you aren’t sure, or if frames contain patches of old sealed brood it’s probably best to burn them.

If the wax is old and very black it is best to strip these frames down and add fresh foundation in the spring – you’ll seldom find AFB in nice clean frames. Continue reading Acetic Acid Fumigation

Things to do in February

I was reading an article about wintering bees and the author said any fool could winter bees, whatever the winter and however poor the beekeeper. And he has a point. The reason being that in order to successfully winter bees you just have to leave them alone. Leave them alone – they know more about it than you do. Well he might be right but if you keep an eye on your bees there are things to be done to prevent the losses we saw in the winter of 2012/13. Continue reading Things to do in February

Beeswax Soap Recipe

I used to think that homemade soap would be a great way to use up some of that beeswax mountain. That is until I started to look into the subject and it turns out to be a bit more complicated than I thought.

For a start there’s the matter of Caustic Soda. Note the capital letters there; those are there as a mark of Respect. When using Caustic Soda, be on your Toes because it is a very nasty chemical indeed. Wear gloves, don’t spill it and don’t blame me if you do. Continue reading Beeswax Soap Recipe

Burns Night Special

Brighten up your Burns night supper with some Scottish Flummery. Not an adjective but a noun!

According to Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary of 1901 Flummery is an ‘acid jelly made from the husks of oats’ and water but it has since come to mean ‘an empty compliment or anything insipid’. A recipe for traditional Flummery seems to bear this out, with its description of a rather flaccid, glutinous dish, resembling porridge but with the oats carefully removed. Continue reading Burns Night Special

Blooming Gorse

The gorse is in bloom early this year, although what is it they say – ‘When gorse is out of blossom, kissing is out of fashion’ – is that it?

Look out for orange/brown pollen loads – along with the brighter orange from the snowdrops.

In fact, when the weather does warm up and the bees are active and bringing in that brown pollen it is worth going out to watch them working the gorse because the flower is specially designed to  make best use of the bees for pollination. Enjoy the strong coconut scent of the flowers while you’re at it. Continue reading Blooming Gorse

Rendering Beeswax

Beeswax is one of the most recalcitrant substances known to man and rendering beeswax is  not for the faint-hearted, so gird yer loins and don’t use the kitchen.

For the beekeeper, honey is probably his most profitable harvest but it is not the only one. The next most important crop, for most, is beeswax, of which there are three sources:

  • Cappings from your honey extraction;
  • Old combs;
  • Scrapings from hive.

Beeswax has a thousand and one cosmetic and domestic uses but unless a good price can be assured the most fundamental use for the beeswax crop is as new foundation. Continue reading Rendering Beeswax