Dear Members,

Beekeeping, a bit like Covid 19, can be hard to pin down. Trying to work out what the right steps are to take in a given situation, making mistakes, and feeling confused when things don’t go to plan seem to be par for the course in both situations.

July, when swarms still occur, can be a busy time. Many of you will be thinking of extracting honey if you have not yet done so, also, as hives are building up to a peak, the threat of swarms is a continuing reality, yet, as the old adage goes ‘ A swarm in July is not worth a fly’. While this may have been the case in former, leaner years, today we don’t think twice about feeding our bees sugar syrup to help them draw out comb and still be strong enough as a colony for breeding winter bees in August September, and of course having enough in the way of stores to overwinter successfully.

I was reminded this year how important record keeping is when after a particularly hot day earlier in the season I was eager to get home and have a cool shower. I rushed to make notes on my hive records. I got in a muddle and noted on Hive 1 that I had left one queen cell and to leave for at least 3 weeks before inspecting. I was therefore puzzled to get a phone call telling me my bees had swarmed.

Fortunately, I captured the swarm, and patted myself on the back, but was unsure which hive had swarmed.

A few days later another phone call alerted me to yet another swarm - this time a cast. Looking back through my records I couldn’t work out where it had come from and it was only when I finally inspected Hive 1 and found numerous broken down queen cells that I worked out I had missed out the second step of returning to break down any new cells which had been started on eggs or larvae. A basic error as a result of careless record making.

My excuse to myself was that I was hot and bothered, and of course we all make mistakes in beekeeping, what is important is to learn from them - hopefully!

Here are more of Maurice’s limericks - they are very topical !

A beekeeper who was young and keen,
Spent good money on a new Buckfast queen,
It started terrific,
She was very prolific,
Then swarmed and was never again seen!

Not only was the queen never seen but her progeny will tend to be rather aggressive, so please keep to local queens and bees. The association will always try to help if you need a queen.

Here too is something we should all be concerned about - destroying and cluttering our planet!

Polystyrene hives are the way forward, said he,
As he transferred his bees' to them with glee,
They do not go rotten,
But he had forgotten,
That when finished with, they end in the sea!

If another Branch Zoom meeting is held, please join us as there have been some interesting discussions and ideas put forward, Martin will send out a link for you to follow.

So, here’s hoping you have a good honey harvest following our amazing Spring weather, and not too bad Summer so far, and also a few tips to keep you on track......

Regards, and stay safe and well,
Margaret Holdsworth