The year started with us moving house at the beginning of February, we chose to move early in the year, which also happened to be during the height of the floods (not such a good decision) so that the bee keeping season would not be affected. This has meant that many of the house jobs had to be put off until winter.
The Bee Farmers Association convention was in Coventry in March. This was the first time we had attended and we thoroughly enjoyed the company and also the business tips that we managed to pick up. Meeting up with like minded bee farmers talking over a few drinks into the early hours of the morning, two visits to bee farms plus great meals made it a weekend to remember. I am sure some of the friends we made, will be back for 2015 and we are looking forward to meeting up with them again.
The aim this year was to get our nuc production up as I had plans for expanding the business. I had been using Paynes poly nucs in the past and wanted to continue to use them, but I found that the one thing that was annoying was the built in feeder. So, out with the electric saw, some filler and a few days later, the modified nucs were ready. We now had an eight frame nuc that could be built up to a much larger colony before moving on to a full size brood box. Some of those that I moved into full boxes in June gave us a small crop by the end of July.
Some of our empty brood boxes were divided and made into split nuc boxes. Later as these colonies expanded, small half size supers were placed on top, to which they expanded and that is how they are being over wintered. We ended up with sixty five of these, which will be used to replace any winter losses and also for expansion into some new apiaries that we have secured for 2015.
In late Spring we took over the running of the hives at Great Fosters Hotel in Egham. We still have a lot of work to do, in early Spring to get them how we want them and at their full production strength, but we were pleased with what we managed to achieve in 2014 with them. The hotel now has blossom, set, chunk and comb honey for sale to their customers, whereas before they only had comb. The bee tours that the Hotel organise were a great success and we have already been booked for 2015, so looking forward to these tours in the summer.
Our queen rearing this year was limited to the queens that needed changing and those we needed for expansion. There was only a few available for sale but this will be expanded in 2015. We did notice that all of our queens were much bigger than those of the past and we put this down to the way we got the cell builders built and the feeding.
Sally and I also took part in DASH (Disease Accreditation Scheme for Honeybees) course which was organised by the Bee Farmers Association of which we both passed. This Spring the bee inspectors will be going through every colony and every frame to check all is well. After the initial inspection we will be able to diagnose and deal with any diseases ourselves. This will then be reviewed in three years time.
Our honey harvest was up this year, and we weighed in two and half tons. Supplying our customers for the next year will not be a problem and hopefully, with our expansion plans, and weather permitting, we hope we will be able to double that weight this year.
We made some business changes in 2014 and these will be carried forward to 2015. Some were equipment changes and some are more organised ways of doing things, and we also have some new products coming in 2015.