We commenced the season with a Bailey comb change, which was planned and went ahead despite a sudden cold turn in the weather. Not ideal Spring conditions, but it did reinforce the benefits of a comb change and we plan to start the 2019 season with one too.
The old frames were passed on to Alison Derrick for extraction of the wax which solved a huge problem for us, as trying to process a large number of frames through the solar in a cold spring is just not feasible.
With regard to training, the intermediates were the stars, running the hives which produced most of the apiary honey and three nucs. They were a strong team, in all senses of the word as number eight hive was so high as to be almost impossible to work.
The queen rearing was difficult because queens had mated poorly in 2017 and we were dealing with the knock on effects of the previous season. We have bought in four new queens, which we put into nucs, usually a safer method of introduction but they were attacked by wasps until late in the season and it is unlikely that they will survive the winter.
Four stalwart beginners completed the season, although we have lost one to Twickenham as she lives nearby. The winter lectures had 11 people who registered but attendance was sporadic for a variety of reasons. A successful CIKB day was held with nine people attending, some of whom have registered for the next beginners’ course. A number of prospective beekeepers were shown round the apiary on Saturday afternoons in September.
The winter intermediate sessions at Esher College based on module five, were very well attended and allowed good discussion of best practice and sharing experiences.
The seasonal bee inspector, Hilary Hayward, inspected the apiary and a number of members’ hives after an Asian hornet alert. All were given a clean bill of health. It was an extremely useful training day and we were also taught how to examine for small hive beetle.
All the usual activities went on, extraction day, apiary tidy up day, erection and taking down marquee, purchasing feed and replacing equipment. We also pursued several potential sites for placing hives on and assisted members in setting up their hives as well as helping the beekeeper out at Imber Court, which has had excellent repercussions. Toilet facilities were maintained as well as the extractors and the loan system for equipment worked well.
A serious reaction to a bee sting caused us to review our risk assessment and emergency procedures, which are now in place. There are now six members who attend Saturday afternoons who are first aid trained. We maintain our controversial decision to keep an epipen at the apiary.
This has been an extremely busy year and a great many activities have taken place. It is down to teamworking, and the camaradie of Saturday afternoons that so much has been achieved. People have made such valuable contributions to the running of the apiary that I am loath to mention individual names because it is a long list, but all efforts and initiatives by members are greatly appreciated and at the end of the day the important thing is that we are all enjoying our beekeeping and learning.
Avis and David Marshall