Well I seem to have been saying it a lot recently but where has the time gone! It feels like only a week ago I was writing about the season starting all the way back in March. Unlike back then rather than talking of all the flowers, honey and good weather ahead I’m thinking more about getting my bees through the bleak days of winter and ready to start off well next year!
August has been another busy month, we have managed to extract all of our summer honey (bar the 2 hives that we use for beekeeping experiences, they will be harvested on the 16th September after our last experience on the 15th. The honey this year has been lovely and clear and we’ve been lucky as the damp days have helped boost flowers and promote nectar production. You can see a few videos and pictures of our extraction kit working below.
Our article in the Bee craft magazine which I mentioned last month came out and has sparked lots of interest in our services. Our most recent beekeepers to take up our extracting service were Sean and Suzanne, (who I know read this blog) and by the amount of honey I harvested for them I assume they had a good season too!
Our experiences have gone better than we could have imagined this time last year, with so much interest and enthusiasm from all participants. We will certainly be running them again next year with the new dates coming out early in the new year!
So enough about what I’ve been up to what about the bees?!
Well August is really the start of our winter preparations, as I said we have been busy taking off any surplus honey so the bees are in one single brood box (Don’t know hive parts, check out our post – Here) This is just my personal preference and many other beekeepers do it differently.
So once the honey is off I start treating my bees for Varroa Mite, many of you will have heard of Varroa Mite before. What many people don’t know is that every hive in the UK will have them at some level, this is one of the main reasons that there are no or very few wild hives left. Most beekeepers, like me decide to treat Varroa mite to kill them which gives our bees much better chances through the winter.
We use a treatment that is called Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) it’s a strong treatment based on formic acid. It kills the mite without killing the bees. Unlike most other Varroa treatments that take 4 weeks MAQS takes just 7 days and can be done with honey supers on the hive. The quick treatment time gives us much more flexibility at the end of the season.
Once our treatments are done and the honey is off the hive we start feeding the bees. In the next few weeks we will bring all our hives back to one spot, that means they are easier to look after. We want all of our full hives to weigh around 25kg at the end of September. During the winter if our bees need more food they will have fondant added to them.
So that’s about it for the bees, the next few weeks are crucial in the development of winter bees and will determine how successful the bees are during the winter. Hopefully around 80-90% of our hives will make it through the winter.
Other Exciting News!
This winter rather than staying at home and getting ready for next season I will be flying out to Australia. Being on the southern hemisphere means their beekeeping season is opposite to ours, I will be flying out at the start of October through to March next year and will be back ready to start our own season off again.
I’m very lucky that I’ve got a beekeeping friend who is going to be helping check and look after my hives through the winter and my Mum and Sister are going to be busy helping at Markets and making deliveries for me!
The bee farm I’m going to work at has around 1,600 hives and is about 5 hours from Sydney near the coast. I’ll be joining a team of 4 other beekeepers and will be working very long hours so unfortunately I’m not expecting to be able to do much travelling around besides with work while I’m there! I know quite a few beekeepers read this so if you have any specific questions about beekeeping here or in Australia I’ll find out the answers and let you know!
Now I’m sure some of you are wondering if I’ll carry on blogging while I’m away and the answer is yes! I hope to carry on writing a blog once a month and hopefully it’ll have lots of pictures too.
Thank you for reading