I was interested to see in the BBKA newsletter the results of the 2019 Honey Survey which indicated that the number of beekeepers replying falls off sharply after two years. Although this could mean that after two years people mostly stop sending in their answers to BBKA, I think it is probably the case that many people drop out of beekeeping after 2 years when they become aware of the complexity and time involved.
Then, reading Roger Patterson’s page where he refers to ‘perpetual beginners’ - those beekeepers who have kept bees for a number of years but still seem to be unaware of some essential facts about bees and beekeeping, I thought again about how important it is to learn more about our bees. Bees are pretty good at surviving our mistakes, but if you want to get the most out of beekeeping, doing some serious study will bring rewards, not only on honey production, but in terms of understanding how fascinating and complex these little insects are.
Study does not need to be formal - doing the BBKA correspondence courses or sitting exams, although for some of us this has been rewarding - by attending lectures, reading books and articles and trying to understand what is happening with your bees you will find you become a better beekeeper and enjoy it more. Hopefully, it will also mean that you remain a beekeeper for more than two years. Also, my big bugbear - you won’t abandon your bees and equipment and then after a few years when the bees have become a nuisance, you ask the association to come and remove the bees from your collapsing equipment - oh and please can you have any honey collected!
Another article reminded me that winter is a good time to move your bees, particularly if you want to re-site them within your own apiary, or somewhere nearby.. This is best done during a spell of cold weather when the bees are largely confined to the hive as this seems to break the memory pattern the bees have and so you can disregard the rule of only moving the bees 3 feet (one metre) or three miles (5 K).
I hope those of you who attended our last local meeting at the Friends Meeting House where Mandy Cadge gave an enjoyable talk about using bee products (wax, propolis, pollen and honey) to make gifts, or articles to sell, were as impressed as I was with the range of things she talked about - not to mention the lovely fudge and rocky-road she offered, as well as the lip balm and gingerbread we all got to take home.
As Martin has kindly circulated the handout she provided there are lots of ideas for everyone to try out. (Rowan has pointed out that there is a typo on the fudge recipe - don’t heat to 150 deg C - it should be 115 deg C - it could make all the difference!)
So enjoy using your honey and wax and spend some time studying your bees - Christmas is a good time to get books or subscriptions to Beecraft or other magazines.
Dont forget to go to St Andrews Parish Church in the centre of town to take a look at the festival of trees where RBC has a decorated tree. Vote for us if you like!
So as 2019 draws to an end, Happy Christmas and a good Beekeeping New Year!