Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Triumph!

Well this is excellent news! I hope it gives the cause to ban "neonics" further momentum and that other retailers will follow suit and remove these products.

The customers of Wickes and B&Q are most likely to be sub-urban dwellers and not farmers, but in terms of the impact, I think this is huge.  Are Wickes and B&Q discontinuing sales because of their environmental beliefs? I doubt it!  It's much more likely they stopped selling the products because their customers don't want to buy them. I'd bet it is a purely commercial decision; they are simply no longer making profit from them.  But hats off to the environmental lobby for making them commercially non-viable in the domestic environment!

All we need now is the major agricultural wholesalers and distributors to follow suit.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013


It's been a continual niggle, trying to keep tabs on all my equipment. Is it mixed up with my stuff at the gardens, or with Susan's? or is it in Eugene's yard? Finally I came up with the answer to my problems. Branding!

I mentioned this to my brother James sometime last year and James, being James, threw himself into the project and came up trumps at Christmas.  It was a loose specification. I wanted a copy of my tattoo to be the "mark" on my equipment. I simply took a photo sent it to James and let him get on with it.

It took a while, and several prototypes, but I think you'll agree the results were worth it. There will certainly be NO confusing my equipment now.

Oh, if anyone out there wants a bespoke branding iron just contact me through the blog with details of what you'd like and I'll pass it on. A price will be provided based on the complexity of the design! You'll love it I promise!

Pre-Stained Woodenware
Stained Woodenware

My tattoo!

Queen Rearing

I've not been that busy over the winter, but I have started to prepare some mating boxes for rearing my own queens! I intend to try (in a small way) to breed my own queens from whatever local bees are out there.

I was caught out in the late fall last year, when I tried to re-queen a hive but couldn't find anyone with any queens available. When I did finally did get hold on one, I found laying workers had established themselves in the hive before I could install the new queen. And as if this wasn't enough, the replacement queen I got hold of died the day after she arrived!  I ended up having to kill off this hive; my FIRST EVER loss!!!

As a result of this mess, I have decided to try some basic queen rearing. I've bought a couple of mating boxes (I call them my Pershing Boxes) and my intent is to take frames with swarm cells from my colonies (as and when I find any?) and install them in the mating boxes. I hope by doing this I'll be able to prevent both swarming but I will also be able to "bank" a few queens and have them on hand should I (or any of my beekeeper neighbours come to that) need them later on in the summer.

Completed Mating Box

I think there will be a good chance any queens I rear will have genes from good hygienic local stock as there are so many Beekeepers in my immediate area, and most of them got their bees through the EMBA.

It will be an interesting experiment to perform and I hope easy to manage. I don't want to get into grafting eggs, I just want an easy way to rear queens that anyone else feels they can copy and have fun with. With luck I'll be able to report back to the club in the fall and we might even have a simple model for swarm control and queen rearing that we can spread throughout the club!

First warm days of 2013

Friday was warm. About 18C (65F). So it was a great day to check on my hives.

I dropped in first on the two hives I have at the Botanical Gardens. As I hope you can see from the video both hives were very active and the bees were even bringing in some pollen; probably Witch Hazel.

Next stop... home and my hive in the back garden was similarly active. The two hives that are just down the street (these were "weak" going into the winter) were also buzzing! I was a little surprised to see how active they were, but I have to say I'm really happy about them! These three hives of bees had also found some pollen, but this time there was some yellow in with the grey.

Finally, my last stop, was my porch and my observation hive. This was hardly active at all and I only saw one or two bees flying. That was it! I guess given this was the smallest hive (and was given the least amount of autumn feed) it probably has the smallest chance of making it through winter. However, on Saturday morning it seemed to be much more active, so I do hold out some hope it will pull through as well!

It's great to see my bees again. I'm beginning to get very excited about the new season of beekeeping!