Friday, 13 April 2012
I'm a Beekeeper!
As of yesterday at 7pm I can now say that I'm a genuine beekeeper. It's been a goal of mine for the last two years and finally acquiring my very first nucleus of bees is something I'm very proud of. I'm also very grateful to a certain generous lady from Port St Mary for giving them to me and being so supportive of young(ish) beekeepers. I'm still smiling from the excitement of taking them to their new home and getting them set up on their temporary stand. Once I had them all settled I couldn't help but just sit and listen to them buzzing around their entrance - I literally sat there entranced by their gentle hum for at least ten minutes. Their buzzing came from being a bit unsettled by the trip and also because it seems to have gotten quite warm in the box as well. The bees were working as a team to ventilate the box by the sheer power of their combined wing beating.
The bees I now have started their lives off as a larger colony which dwindled in size last year. They've been housed in a handmade nucleus box all winter and luckily were able to make it through to spring. There are several handfuls of worker bees in this tiny colony along with a queen who is currently marked in red paint. This marker will make the job of finding her so much easier, especially as the colony begins to swell in size. Making sure the queen is present and laying is one of the key things a beekeeper looks for when they open and inspect their hive. Without a queen the hive will die so if something happens to her you'll want to get a new one in asap.
My colony's original owner has a lovely back garden where she keeps three full sized hives in addition to the nucleus she gave me. By the time I arrived yesterday evening, most if not all the bees had gone into their hives for the night and the same was true with the bees living in the small nucleus box. Even so we donned our beekeeping gear and set about securing the roof of the nucleus onto the hive with luggage bands I'd brought along. A few bees came out in the process but after buzzing around for a minute or so they went back inside the box. After everyone was aboard, a small mesh screen was taped over the entrance and the entire box was wrapped in a sheet. We then carried it up to my car and secured it in the back for the ride up north. You can probably guess that I drove slowly and carefully all the way back! And from the crazed looks on some of my tailgater's faces I could tell that not everyone was happy about it ;)
The nucleus is now placed in its final position and with our warm and calm weather today I'm sure the bees have been out exploring their new territory. More and more flowers are beginning to bloom and they'll definitely be attracted to the dandelions growing in the nearby hedge. They've just been fed some sugar syrup though so they'll have stores to last them without needing to find food in the wild just yet.
The colony will stay as is for the next two days before I go up and move them into their permanent home: the brood box of my new hive, which will sit on a custom made stand. It's a much larger space for them so they'll also have the opportunity to spread out, build more comb and to increase their numbers. With any luck they'll settle in well and begin producing masses of glorious golden honey and comb by the long days of summer.
Have a lovely weekend everyone ~