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What makes up the hive?

We have to get the new hive out of the box soon. It's been so cold here and yesterday we had intended to take it up to the apiary but it snowed.  Now, I happen to know that some of you reading this are in Alaska and are probably thinking 'Why would this stop you?' since really it was just English snow - maybe 6ins covering but as anyone living in England knows a little bit of snow is enough to bring most of the country to a standstill. 

In our defence the apiary is up a tiny track, behind a beautiful but very old - we are talking 16th century church and down a footpath between huge trees. It would have looked fantastic covered in snow but it would have been inaccessible.

So, back to whats in the box. We have a Thorne National Hive (feel free to advertise Thorne!) with DN4 frames. Oooh, that was a bit technical. Let's start with a rough idea of what we have. The diagram is a National hive, usually the most practical, cheaper and easiest hive, in my humble opinion. There…
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Getting the hive ready for winter

We looked at sorting some bits out at the apriary this weekend. There are a few tasks to undertake to make sure that the hive is protected, the bees are happy and they stand the best chances of surviving the winter.

Even for our little hive when the bees are tucked up predators are still an issue. First off, we had to install a mouse guard to prevent mice from creeping in and stealing honey.   Mouse guards allow bees in and out but stop bees by covering the entrance with a metal grid.

Secondly the hive may also be under attack from woodpeckers. Now, we are told that a net thrown over the hive will annoy woodpeckers by tangling their feet enough to put them off pecking into the hive.

Hubby securing the net over the hive.

The apriary with all the hives ready for winter

Black Friday Sale,Uh oh!

Did you see any bargains? I never do, in fact one item I had in my basket of a well known online retailer went up in price.

But then I got the Thornes promotional email (feel free to advertise on my blog, Thornes) and a second hive just slipped in to my basket with a saving of over £100!!!

Its our Christmas gift to each other, hubby and I.  It arrived today, soon to be installed at the apriary with the faint and distant Christmas wish that a colony will take up residence all by themselves in the spring.

We are thinking we might have to identify some additional labour now. The hunt for a secondhand and cheap aged 9 bee suit is on. The boy can become an apprentice beekeeper.

Annual Bee Keepers Christmas Dinner

It was lovely, thanks. I had goats cheese, followed by the turkey. We learnt an awful lot about some aspects of bee keeping which had me throwing worried looks at hubby. One of the reasons I learnt so much was because we were sat right next to a Bee Inspector. Yes, thats his actual full time job. Well, that and looking after the 70 hives he has.

So the potted version is that Bee Inspectors are employed by DEFRA to look after bees and bee keepers. They can go anywhere on land that bees are kept though due to a recent change in legislation only on private gardens with permissions. If they contact you and ask to see your beehive, you have to let them view it. They are primarily concerned with the health of bees. We didn't get around to the 'funny stories a bee inspector might tell you' part of the conversation as service was quick and we had to get home for the baby sitter but he did tell us about bee keepers who keep their bees on top of shed roofs - not a good idea in his v…

Hornet attack

Hi, you might have read about hornets raiding hives. I don't think I had ever seen a hornet close up until the other day when one kidnapped and killed one of our bees. We were right there when the brazen hornet hussy marched up grabbed a bee and pummelled it directly in front of us.
This hornet was nearly the size of a small shrew and I have to say me and hubby stepped back out of fear ourselves. The whole hive was roaring too, this is the loud hum that the bees make to communicate to each other that there is an incident taking place or there might be a threat. We felt very protective of the bees and like they had our back too. They were very upset as you can imagine and a few of them gathered at the hive entrance I think probably from shock but certainly they were the guard just checking out for further threats.

This is the size of the blighter though those are not my fingers, not hubby's either. I don't wear beige. There are a great many mug shots of offenders out there …

Honey tasting

When it gets a bit colder and there is less to do in the hives bee keepers seem to gather inside more. We were invited to the annual honey tasting the other day. Everyone bring a jar with no labels for tasting. Its blind so nobody knows whose jar belongs to who. Honey is marked on taste, colour, appearance (might be crystallised for example) and aroma. There are two categories - set and runny.

You get a little stick - looked suspiciously like a Starbucks coffee stirrer to me - to dip into the jar and see what you think, then you mark the jars on a piece of paper and drop into a box. The winner is the jar with the overall highest score. Every year a supermarket brand is included to trick the bee keepers and see if they are true to pure non blended honey!!

 Honey set out for tasting

Blind labels

It was a great event. The honey was lovely though after a few jars you really appreciated the Wasabi nuts to refresh the palate, though it was easy to overdose on those too. 

Who won? Out of all…