What a difference a year makes!!
I have thumbed through last years records and this years crop was down slightly on last year, but we still had plenty of honey from last years crop so our customers will still be supplied as usual all year round.
Early in the season we had a call for a cut out in a rotten tree stump. Cutting the comb out and fixing to frames was not a problem. The search for the queen, which we hoped would be on one of the pieces of comb was in vain. After a careful search in the tree, Sally spotted the queen but could not reach her. From my position I reached in but could not see as my hand was blocking the light. Sally gave me directions (a bit like the golden shot) and I made a grab at the right time and got her. So far the colony has been doing well, but requeening next season has been noted in the book.
The increase in wasps has been a real nuisance this year and also we have seen a lot more hornets about as well. I had spotted one or two taking bees from the hive entrances but they do not seem to be as much of a problem as the wasps. The wasp traps that we use were being emptied on a near daily basis, somewhat different from last year when it was only weekly.
Queen rearing was slow at the start of the season as the weather never seemed to be right when the queens were placed in the mating nucs. Mating success was poor in May, but picked up in June and we managed to get all the queens we needed including a few spares. The spare queens are now being overwintered in double mating nucs. Nucleus sales were up slightly this year and the orders for next year are already building up nicely.
A new thirty frame extractor was our largest purchase (a year early) and has been working steadily during July/August. It was not the purchase we really wanted this year, but as our other extractor had suffered a bearing failure, it was time to upgrade, and at the end of the season we had the old extractor repaired and sold it on. Alongside the extractor we purchased a large uncapping table and a honey creamer. 2016 purchases have not been decided on yet, but I will keep you informed when we decide.
We have managed to pick up a few new apiaries during the year and at the time of writing, we are in the middle of shuffling hives about. We are running at two hundred colonies at the moment and are planning on expanding this in 2016.
Plans for next season are in the making, and there is going to be a few changes to the queen mating yard. The mating nucs have been in a bit of a wind tunnel in the past few years, which has not been too much of a problem, but next year some trees surrounding the yard are going to be cut down, so the nucs will be moved to a new location a short distance away. They will be more sheltered there along with the drone mother hives that will accompany them.
Queen introduction this past season has been with press in cages and I have been really impressed with them as we did not lose any queens during introduction from using these cages. This will be our only way of queen introduction next season.
We already have quite a few polystyrene hives and next season, one of the jobs will be to change the heavy wooden ones for the much lighter and better poly hives. We will also be doing pollination work next year which means the poly hives will be a godsend for us, being lighter to move and getting more on the trailer as opposed to the wooden hives. We will report on this during the season.
Hopefully next season we will try and blog on a regular basis, we have made it our New Years resolution.
There is no peace for the wicked and it’s back to the farmers market on the 2nd January with our new look stall.
All it leaves me to say now is we at Bee Happy Products wish you all a Happy New Year and hope next season is a good one for you all.