The bees have been busy this week and so has the beekeeper. It seems that there are more bees than beekeepers in the area. There have been so many phone calls requesting us to collect a swarm that we have run out of equipment and had to turn down the request. In fact it is not always necessary or even advisable to collect swarms from an unknown source. Sometimes they have settled in places where they are inconveniencing nobody and can perfectly well be left to do their own thing. Sometimes, if they are completely inaccessible but causing a problem, the only solution is to kill them off but that is a last resort and something that nobody likes to have to do. There are risks as well. The bees may not be one hundred per cent healthy and can carry disease into the apiary. There is also the risk that it may be a strain of bee that is naturally aggressive and therefore not easy to handle. A bee that is docile makes life a lot pleasanter for the apiarist.
That said, we have had a good week. A strong colony has been split and shared with another local beekeeper and the removal of queen cells from one of our colonies will have prevented losing some of our own bees. When a swarm leaves the hive it also takes with it supplies in the form of honey to use while it sets up elsewhere. This is normal (and sensible!) but obviously reduces the amount of honey available to harvest for sale or personal use…..which leads me to say that, at the weekend, we were able to extract 40lbs of honey.
For me this is what it is all about. There is nothing to beat the scent of freshly extracted honey; it is an annual source of pleasure. More about that next week.