Greetings and welcome to the East Waterford Beekeepers’ Association blog. My name is Micheál Kavanagh and I’ve been keeping bees since 2003. Here I hope to keep a diary of what we should (and shouldn’t) be doing during the Beekeeping Year as well as generally sounding off on all bee-related stuff. Please feel free to offer your own opinions on what appears here. As we all know, if you want 5 different opinions on beekeeping procedures just ask 2 Beekeepers!! This blog (at least I think that’s what this is) will contain my opinions on bee stuff (If you don’t like my opinions… I have other ones!). By readers discussing, dissecting and disagreeing with these opinions, well, it will help us all learn.
We’ve all ended up as keepers of bees and our reasons and journeys to where we are today are many and varied. If you’re interested in hearing about how I became a beekeeper click How I Bee-gan!
THE BEEKEEPING YEAR
To me, the beekeeping year ends at the end of September. The harvest is in. Bees are fed. Varroa has been treated. Mouseguards are in place. We can do no more for our wee bee friends except drop in now and again to see that the hives are upright and roofs are in place.
Mike Hughes, our association Chairperson, likes to give his hives a Christmas present of baker’s fondant just because he cares! This is probably a good habit as, if stores are getting low, the fondant can get the hive through the latter stages of February/March.
Unlike most insects, our bees do not hibernate. Instead, they form a cluster in the centre of the hive and, when the temperature drops, they vibrate to generate heat (humans shiver for the same reason). This vibrating, while generating heat, also uses up energy and so the bees are constantly dipping into their stores to maintain their energy levels. Surprisingly, in a mild winter bees tend to use up their stores much more quickly. This is because on a mild day, instead of remaining in the hive in the cluster (which actually uses up very little energy), the bees will leave the hive on a “cleansing flight” (it is as it suggests!). As there are no sources of nourishment available outside the hive the bees come home with a fierce hunger on them and have a feed. So considering the mild weather of late, this may become an issue later in the year.
At our AGM one of our members, Eddie Fitzgerald, brought in this!
On closer inspection, hopefully, you’ll notice something in the bottle
Yes, it’s full of honeycomb.
Best leave it to Eddie to explain….
“The following is brief account of how honey comb came to be in this porter bottle as I can recall it some fifty years later.While examining a disused C.D.B. hive back in the mid 1960’s with a beekeeping friend (who had been given this hive by a neighbour of his) we discovered that a number of porter bottles had been placed in the cavity over the brood frames. It appears that sometime later a swarm of bees took up residence in the hive and filled the space over the frames with brace comb and also built comb inside the bottles. They must have died out sometime later as no bees or honey were present when we examined the hive.”