Many thanks to Patrick for hosting our last meeting on the Leas at Kingsdown, the wind certainly was strong, but the bees were sheltered and well-behaved. Patrick said the 8 hives all needed attention, the 2 that I saw were thriving and in enviable fettle.
The oil seed rape honey should have been taken by now, the frames put back on for the bees to lick clean and hopefully refill. A member in Barfrestone has taken 153 pounds from just one hive before the end of May, his best in 50 years of beekeeping! A season of contrasts indeed, the first Association honey came in at the tail end of May. The hot dry spring has led to caution about the “June gap” which may mean a more serious lack of nectar this year.
Alan Byham, Regional Bee Inspector sent this message:
Due to the recent lower than average rainfall experienced in many parts of the South East Region it may be that colonies are running very low on honey stores, particularly if a spring crop has been removed. It is possible that a summer honey crop will be much reduced or even non-existent in some areas, as ground water levels are low and plants struggle to produce nectar. It is not uncommon for colonies to be starving in the traditional ‘June gap’ period and I am therefore advising that beekeepers keep a close watch on honey stores in their colonies and feed with sugar syrup or candy if required.
Keep up the weekly colony inspections, the swarming impulse carries on through June and July. If you find queen cells, think carefully about the equipment you will need for swarm control.
If a swarm occurs, any receptacle will do for collection initially, bucket, box etc, invert it on the sheet you first laid down and prop it open with a stone to let the bees enter.
Again, equipment is needed to house them.
Dusk is the easiest time to take them away as all should be in the box if you have the queen inside.
5 of our members have taken the BBKA Basic Assessment examination this month, it’s an oral and practical examination of beekeeping skills and knowledge. News of their progress will follow, but they were well prepared by Mary.