Category Archives: Things to do in March

How to find the Queen

Finding an unmarked queen is difficult enough so getting her marked early in the season is vital for what comes later.  As an illustration of that – see if you can spot the queen in the photo above – experienced beekeepers hold your whist!

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the same photo but with the queen marked. Continue reading How to find the Queen

Hooper’s Five Questions

Ted Hooper’s five questions – as described in his book ‘Guide to Bees and Honey’ were devised to walk the beekeeper through his or her weekly inspections. The first 5 columns in the Colony Assessment Sheet are there for you record the answers.

Take a look at this frame of bees above – yes there are several things there that should put you on alert!

What you do, or don’t do, in response is the essence of beekeeping. Continue reading Hooper’s Five Questions

Beekeeping for Beginners Course 2015

The South Kildare Beekeepers Association – ‘Beekeeping for Beginners’ Course starts on Monday 23rd February 2015 at 7.30 in the Church of Ireland Hall, Athy, Co.Kildare.

Includes talks, hands-on practical sessions, honey extraction and SKBA membership.

For further details:

Beekeeping without Smoke

The beekeeper’s smoker is seen as an essential piece of equipment; it is certainly the most effective way of putting manners on the bees but it is not always either appropriate or necessary. Consider for a moment the lion tamer – he doesn’t rush at his animals jabbing away with his chair but if he needs them, his whip and his chair are at hand; the beekeeper should view his smoker the same way. Continue reading Beekeeping without Smoke

Queen Marking Colours

There are five queen marking colours and they follow an Internationally recognised sequence depending on the last number in the year the queen was born.

Queen Marking Colours

The sequence is easily remembered with the following mnemonic ‘Will You Rear Good Bees‘.

  • White – years ending 1 or 6
  • Yellow – years ending in 2 or 7
  • Red – years ending in 3 or 8
  • Green – years ending in 4 or 9
  • Blue – years ending in 5 or 0

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Wild Garlic

Like it or loath it – the wild garlic comes up like a green tide each spring. Personally, I like it. It’s a lovely pungent addition to salads and it makes a great pesto.

There are several species of wild garlic all of which are closely related to the garlic we buy in the shops (Allium sativum).  Only 3 members of the garlic family are resident in Ireland, only two are of interest to the bees and only one is a true native but all of them are edible.

  • Ramsons or Allium ursinum or ‘Bear garlic’- native Irish plant (see header photo above)
  • Three Cornered Leek or Allium triquetrum – probably introduced from Europe 3 hundred years ago (photo below)

The bees visit both species although it’s nothing they’ll ever get a crop from, which is probably just as well.

Wild Garlic or Allium triquetrum

Pollen loads are yellow as displayed by this very obliging, if slightly fuzzy, bumble bee seen here on some Three Cornered Leek or Allium triquetrum. Click it for a better view.

Copyright ©, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Bees and Honey with a Scale Hive

A scale hive (or hive scale)  is a beehive set on a weighing scales so you can observe the daily change in weight.

Usually this means constructing a special stand which will accommodate the scales upside-down over a series of mirrors set like a periscope so the daily change of weight can be read from above. If you are manually inept or technologically minded or both, it is possible to buy a special solar-powered, digital scale hive which will allow you to monitor your bees from a distance – probably via a satellite – the mind boggles! Continue reading Bees and Honey with a Scale Hive

Winter Losses

It has been a good winter for the bees and there have been very few losses. However, what do you do if you find a hive of your bees has died out?

Well, the first thing to do is find out why they died because whatever killed them could still be lurking in there; if you can pin down the cause of death then you will know what to do with the hive.

Look for the two most obvious things first:

  • Starvation
  • Poor queen

Much will depend on the time of year they died… Continue reading Winter Losses