Following our AGM, as you can see above, Martin has formally taken up the role as Secretary. We are very grateful as this post holds together the organization of the branch and it is a relief to know it is in capable hands again. Please do look at the reports and minutes from the AGM.
If like me, you eagerly scan through BBKA News when it arrives on the doorstep, you may have noticed a little article about research done in Israel that demonstrated that flowers respond to the sound of bees buzzing to produce more nectar. Background noise can interfere with this process. This made me think about how little we know and understand about the natural world which we so often blunder our way through. It is something to think about when working with our bees. So much of what we do, splitting, making up Nuc’s, inspecting colonies, is done for our benefit rather than for the bees, so maybe we need to always think carefully before opening a colony and being sure we handle our bees with care.
We have had this surprisingly warm February and it has been tempting to look in the hive when day-time temperatures have soared above the 15 degrees C that is usually recommended for first inspections, but although day-time temperatures have been high, night-time temperatures have often plummeted to zero. I think about how long it takes my house to warm up in the winter if the heating has been turned off for a few days, and translate that into the task we set the bees by cooling down their nest when opening it up. The old adage was not to do the first inspection until the flowering currant was in flower. Unfortunately new hybrid species flower earlier so that can only be used as a general guide , but mid to late March is usually warm enough.
Another article in BBKA News that caught my eye was one about doing exercises to help with beekeeping. Beekeeping is a very physical hobby and lifting and moving brood boxes while doing swarm control measures can take its toll. I have certainly found that regular Pilates has helped to strengthen core muscles and encourage me to be careful when lifting, using legs rather than back to take the strain. The exercises shown (while looking funny) certainly will help with healthy beekeeping for the beekeeper.
If you can, go to the Bee Tradex at Stoneleigh to buy equipment you need and to see what is available, or even just to meet other beekeepers or listen to some of the lectures. It is well worth the £5.00 entrance fee. Also, don’t forget the annual BBKA Spring Convention at Harper Adams coming up in April.
If you sadly lost your bees over winter, put a sample of at least 30 bees in the freezer and bring them along to the Bee Health day we are planning on the 6th April to examine them microscopically and perhaps determine if Nosema was the cause of their demise.