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Archive for the ‘Bee Lore’ Category

Like many beekeepers in the UK, 2014 turned out to be a very good season for honey.  With a very wet start to the year, we had a near-ideal spring and summer.

Having a previous record of 150 lbs in previous years, this year we managed to take off 250 lbs form 4 hives.  I’m sure other beekeepers have achieved more productivity per hive – but for us, it was a great year.

At the start of 2013 I took the advice from a seasoned beekeeper who posted on this site.  He told me to use TWO National brood chambers per hive – not one.  Having spent several seasons frustrated that the brood took at least one brood chamber and one super-as-brood chamber, I experimented in 2013.  The system worked well.  So in 2014, I gave each of my established hives the extra space.  Combined with the fact that the hives recovered much more strongly after swarming, I can’t understand why

Faith (the first hive I ever installed) continues strongly having re-queened a number of times – and lives up to her name.  She produced the best crop of honey with four supers (not all full).  The more observant will see an additional concrete block on the top of the hive.  I had problems with badgers tipping some of our hives over a few years back.  The weight of the block on top of the hive seems to have stopped this particular problem.

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Faith, with two brood chambers, ready for over-wintering.

I will write more about the other five hives in future posts.

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Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white comb

and sweet honey

from my old failures.

——

Antonio Machado

(1875-1939)

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“The Sphinx, the Pyramids,

the stone temples are, all of them,

ultimately as flimsy as London Bridge;

our cities but tents set up in the cosmos.

We pass.

But what the bee knows,

the wisdom that sustains our passing life

– however much we deny or ignore it –

that for ever remains.”

P.L. Travers

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 41,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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We caught the first swarm of the season on Monday night.  It was 18ft up in a bush – and I had to use an extension to my long pole (used for painting) to get the box up there.  Luckily Dennis (whose garden it was) had an additional 3 poles which I used to extend my pole as well as get the smoker up there!

The photo looks as though I am trying to catch the sun!

Having inspected the hives on Saturday, Faith is still very weak and I somehow doubt will come through as I have now tried to re-queen her twice.  We therefore decided to call this swarm “Hope” to keep the spirit of our three first hives – Faith, Hope and Charity.  The original Hope and Charity died off in 2005, but Faith has kept going since then.  Oh – and it was luck that the place that we caught the hive in started with an H – so we stuck to the Bee Law of naming the hives from the first letter of the place that they were caught!

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Last week I bought (because I couldn’t rent it) the film by Sue Monk Kidd called “The Secret Life of Bees”.  Here is her entry on Beelore and Symbol from her website <HERE> (which tells you more about the book and film).  I love the idea that she wrote the book with a pot of honey which was an essential part of her continuing to write the book!  Pure magic!

Bee Lore and Symbol

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“When I decided to put three beekeeping sisters into the novel, it was not because I knew anything about bees, beekeeping or honey making. I had to read lots of books. There’s a mystique about bees, a kind of spell they weave, and as I read, I fell completely under it.

Bee lore goes back to ancient times, when bees were considered a symbol of the soul, of death and rebirth. I also discovered medieval hymns that referred to the Virgin Mary as the bee hive, and Christ as the honey that flowed from her. In some stories, the Virgin Mary was associated with the queen bee, and in ancient Greece the goddess Demeter was referred to as the queen bee, and her priestesses were the worker bees, who served her.

As the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter in the novel suggest, I thought of the pink house in the novel as a kind of hive community. As for who the queen bee in the novel might be, I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. You might be as interested as I was, though, to learn that for a very long time, beekeepers assumed that the queen was a king. It wasn’t until 1609 that people began to seriously question the existence of king bees, thanks to Charles Butler who wrote a book called The Feminine Monarchie.

Long ago, honey was regarded as a magical, sacred substance. People were buried in it, not only because it was a preservative, but because “bee-balm” as it was called, was thought to contain a resurrection potency. It was one of the libations offered to the gods of Greece, and believed to be the food of poets and muses. I’ll tell you this much, I ate honey religiously while writing The Secret Life of Bees. For some reason writing about honey made me hungry for it. I kept a jar of it sitting right on my desk. One day when I completely ran out of it, I was overcome with the desire for biscuits and honey, and abruptly stopped writing, drove to the store and bought some. Actually, I do think the writing went better after that.”

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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