I extracted my first batch of honey this year over the Queens Diamond Jubilee. I thought it would be nice to send Her Majesty a jar, especially as I had done a Diamond Jubilee label. I received a letter today from Buckingham Palace, saying the Queen was very touched to receive my kind gift. Whether the jar will ever appear on her breakfast table, I don’t know. But be nice to think it will.
I have left all my hives alone for the past two weeks. Weather has been cold, hot, windy and raining. I can see plenty of activety with the bees out foraging, bringing in plenty of pollen. So happy queens in each hive are still laying. After hive splitting, the first extraction and after the swarming season I believe the bees are best left alone. Other than just looking for my peace of mind, all I would be doing is stressing out the bees by inspecting them. Many a novice in their keeness can inspect too often at this time of year. Nectar and pollen are readily available to them, I know they have plenty of stores in the brood box for their own use, so I am happy to leave them alone to fill the supers.
Also the last two days have been too damn hot and muggy to want to put a bee suit on. If cooler next week I might have a quick look. Bees have managed for millions of years without our meddling, so sometimes best just to let them get on with it. My last extraction of honey will come off in early August, then I will start winter preparations. I know this sounds early but they will need a month of thymol treatment for varroa, once the last honey is off and then feeding for winter. The strongest colonies are those which are well prepareed well for winter and in the early spring.
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With the first harvest of honey extracted, warmed and settled, I jarred this first batch. The one super I kept separate has produced a beautiful white creamy honey, unfortunately only 21 jars of this. Not quiet the 150 lbs I had hoped for in total, but I jarred 134 lbs so very happy considering the spring we have had.
I do like my Diamond Jubilee label, which went down well in my local pub over the weekend. I took a box of honey for those who had pre-ordered jars of honey and tourists in the pub on seeing them bought jars from me. The rest will go outside now on my honey honesty table. Hopefully this year some scumbag won’t nick the honesty tin !!
One of my hives, probably the strongest one, which I split 2 weeks ago swarmed yesterday morning. I was enjoying a coffee in the sunshine looking at the hives and saw quiet a few bees around the entrance and suddenly they were pouring out. I kept an eye open for where they would cluster and within half an hour they had clustered perfectly on a branch nearby. Within 10 minutes they were in another hive. Bet that confused them, that from swarming they were back in a hive in such a short period. It rather made the scout bees redundant.
Weather forecast is for yet another wet week, fortunately though I took honey off the hives last week, all have plenty of food within the one and half broodboxes. If this carries on though, will have to keep an eye on their food stocks. Bees have done so well this year considering the conditions, so don’t want to loose any to starvation now.