Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Life of a Beekeeper - The Big Day Arrives

20 May 2012  The 'Big Day' has arrived. All the preparation done: hives bought in kit form and built, lessons attended, books and websites read.

Practical workshop today at Thornes near Lincoln and they very kindly let us pick our bees up at the same time. Felt slightly nervy on the drive back, with a few thousand bees strapped into the back seat but thankfully only one was loose. Only one, she says, which unfortunately we had to let out of the window after about 40 miles as it became too interested in me, the driver!

We placed the nuc on the hive stand and left it until evening. We then transferred the 6 frame nucleus which was very full of bees, into the hive. Our smoker went out almost immediately but because of the practical we had had earlier, when we had the same problem, having inspected so many hives, we were confident enough to go ahead. The bees seemed very calm which added to our confidence. We thought we spotted the queen, unmarked, but couldn't be absolutely certain and we couldn't hang around as the priority was to get them into the hive. Five new frames of foundation were added and a gallon of syrup in a contact feeder.

When making the feeder up it would have been useful to know that when you turn it over the syrup pours out. We thought the feeder was leaking but it actually stops very quickly and some of the syrup running into the hive doesn't do it any harm, as it tells the bees that there is food for them.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Oh what Folly!

OK, we dug a pond, a few years ago.  It was a big pond and as we had very few beds at that time, there was nowhere to put the soil, so we made a 'mound'.  Well, we figured as we live in a flat area it would, and it does, give us a view over the surrounding farmland.  We sowed some grass seed and a couple of pounds of wildflower seeds and it looked fantastic the first year.  After that, it wasn't so good, mainly as the poppies didn't appear again and the more invasive wildflowers took over, something we have now seen repeated at a garden and nursery we like to visit, Breezy Knees, outside York.

We stripped it off earlier this year and sowed some Medallion lawn seed, available from Rolawn Ltd.  It looked very nice but needed something on top.  I favoured a hololith but they're expensive.  So being the recyclers that we are, we decided to build a folly from a pollarded willow.  We'd already created a new willow tree and a willow arch from it, so why not a folly?  After a very hot morning digging deep holes to bury the willow in and tying it together, we were pleased with the result.  It will take several months to know if it has worked but should be worth the wait and will be a lovely picnic spot. Or it may be complete and utter folly! What's gardening without experimentation.