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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…

Marking the queen

Well, you might have noticed that the blog is about the bees, mostly, but that there is a fair amount of juggling going on with work, family, etc etc. Alongside my first assignment which has been due ( I am doing a course) we have made a model volcano, tested it with mentos and coke, thats a sticky business, and started the process of term end and every event that goes with it.

The hive is growing which is great and we decided to take the feeder off for now to give the bees more chance to go out and forage. We need them to draw out (so thats making comb and putting honey in for eggs and larvae) around three quarters of the brood box (thats the one the queen lives in) before we put the super (thats the box where the honey will be) back on.

Whilst hubby was there 'just checking' he managed to mark the queen! This is a job that of course I might have liked to be there for but guess it had to be done sometime.

Why do we mark the queen and what does it mean? 

We do it so we can see her really. Its hard to spot the queen in a hive so it just makes it easier. It also means that if you forget how old she is you can work it out. I don't think I will forget, she's like family now, along with the guinea pigs, the fish and the cats.

As its 2017 the queen gets marked with a yellow dot. It was lucky I read this as I was starting to choose colours and our daughter had already suggested pink. Anyway turns out each year gets a colour and its an internationally recognised code.




It is quite distinctive and looks like I have marked the photo but there she is, the yellow dot. There, halfway up, towards the right hand side, see it? 

The colour code is based on the last digit of the year:

Year ending:
1 or 6 White
2 or 7 Yellow
3 or 8 Red
4 or 9 Green
0 or 5 Blue

A simple way to remember it is Will You Rear Good Bees (White, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue)

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Looking good!

Pouring with rain today for 10 mins or so I know not best timing but that when we delivered our hive to the apiary. Moving from our lounge to the apiary is certain to increase our chances of bees taking up residence.

Note the hubby standing in the dry patch under the trees.






We left the super on, realise thats a mistake but since its currently empty not sure it matters yet.

Deadlines, deadlines

We should have visited the bees today, just to check all is well, they have enough to eat, they are settling in, checking any problems with the neighbours etc etc, but we didn't. Work got in the way today, plus it really is too hot to be wearing the kit!


We got this - see below -  from the National Bee Unit, we've got the sugar in and we are making up the solution tomorrow, we don't want to be responsible for starvation!

Beekeepers may wish to monitor their colony food levels closely, particularly in any splits, nucleus colonies or colonies where the entire spring honey crop was removed. In some areas of the UK, our Inspectors are concerned at finding colonies that are starving.Feed can be prepared from refined white sugar and water mixed at a 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping equipment suppliers.