Christmas is one of the four quarter days which mark the changing of the seasons.
The four quarter days are:
- Lady day or the Feast of the Annunciation 25th March;
- Midsummer’s day around 25th June;
- Michaelmas 29th September;
- Christmas 25th December – lest we forget. Fat chance.
They all approximately coincide with either an equinox or a solstice.
‘Why would you want to?’ says you. Well the news on the streets is that it’s only a matter of time before it will be announced that research into the health benefits of ivy honey has discovered it to be the best thing since Manuka – I’m serious. Click here for more about ivy honey.
However, taking a crop of ivy honey is problematic for several reasons:
- It sets in the comb even more quickly than rape honey so is difficult to extract;
- It is the last honey flow of the season and the bees build up on it and rely on it for their winter stores;
- By the time you take it off it could be too late to feed before winter sets in.
So, here’s what you do:
Towards the end of the season you will probably have observed bright green pollen loads coming in – like this. Please excuse poor photo.
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:
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
Unless you killed the queen yourself, or saw her die, you can’t be certain the bees are queenless unless you test them. Here is the simple queenlessness test. Continue reading How do I know if my hive is queenless?
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.
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
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)
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Tools will be provided but bring scissors, and a bodkin if you have one.
Ashford & District Beekeepers are having a Honey Festival:
Éanna Ní Lamhna will give a talk on Biodiversity and the Importance of Pollinators.
There will also be a skep making demonstration – that’s me, that is.