Happy New Year.
As we move into 2022 we hope that the restrictions Covid has imposed on us will lessen, and our beekeeping will benefit from meeting other beekeepers and sharing experiences and knowledge at our monthly meetings and at trade shows and the annual national beekeeping Conferences across the UK and Ireland.
Eva Crane, the world renowned researcher and author said “You must remember that you are a beginner [beekeeper] for the first 20 years”, so we all benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.
Queen bees start laying again in mid January after a December break in brood rearing. This year’s unseasonably warm weather over New Year may influence the bees to start their cycle of brood rearing early, although daylight length may be a greater influence on their behaviour.
Whichever, this is the time to make sure your bees have sufficient stores and access to fresh pollen to support the start of the brood rearing process. Each year the early spring flowers like snowdrops, crocus and hellebores seem to flower earlier, and these are important sources of pollen for the bees, so think about planting these lovely flowers near your hives if possible. Snowdrops are best established ‘in the green’ i.e. planted when they are growing rather than as bulbs.
I was heartened to read that following the catastrophic volcanic eruption on the island of Palma in the Canary Islands, a local beekeeper with 6 hives found 5 of them alive and well after a month of being buried under volcanic ash. The bees had apparently sealed their hives with propolis and survived on their stores until they were ‘rescued’ by the beekeeper. Another example of the amazing adaptability and survivability of honeybees.
Nevertheless, as beekeepers we need to take our responsibility for our bees seriously, and heed of the appeal by our seasonal bee inspector, Colleen Reichling, who, because of the rapid increase in European Foulbrood (EFB) in Warwickshire has appealed to us all to register on BeeBase and to update our details so that she has up to date information about hive locations. This means that she can do inspections of known hives to limit the spread of this destructive disease.
December was a time of festivity and some of us enjoyed our December social at the beginning of the month with a sumptuous array of shared food followed by a fun game of “Turkey foot” dominoes. Two of our new beekeepers ran away with prizes of Christmas cheer (alcohol) while the wooden spoon (chocolates) fell to a more experienced beekeeper. Then some of us shared an enjoyable and social Christmas meal at “Crakerteria”, the annual charity set up in one of the many empty shops in the town centre.
Another Christmas activity for the branch was decorating a tree for the St Andrews parish church annual “Festival of Trees” - which, surprise, surprise, we won for I think the 3rd time in recent years! So well done decorators!
Regards, and stay safe and well.