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Autumn Equinox 2014

September 24, 2014

Yesterday marked the autumn equinox which, in my book, means that autumn has properly arrived; winter hides just around the corner. The beekeeping season is nearing an end too. Currently, my bees are ‘working the Ivy’ and have been for a couple of weeks; ivy flowers are a prolific pollen and nectar source at this time of year, here – not just for the bees, but for many other insects too. Regardless, it’s great to see the girls so busy during the warm autumn days, and the distinctive smell of ivy honey/nectar currently abounds around my small apiary.

Overall, I’m delighted with the way things have gone for me and my bees this year. Back in April I had only a single colony of bees, so my two aims for the year were simply to:

  1. Keep the bees that I had alive, and
  2. Make increase if I possibly could.

I started on the second objective in April, by vertically splitting my one colony. This split went well, but in mid-May the ‘original’ colony decided that they wanted to swarm, despite having been split. So, I then had to perform an artificial swarm, thus giving me a third colony. In early June I then picked up two small castes, leaving me, at that time, with five colonies. Since June I’ve combined the smaller colonies and now I’m looking at taking three strong colonies into the winter. The diagram below gives an approximate idea of the road I’ve travelled this year:

2014 Bee Keeping Summary

2014 Bee Keeping Summary

 

In addition, the amount I’ve learnt has been huge, including, but not limited to:

  • Making & using my own Snelgrove board in my first vertical split.
  • Performing my first artificial swarm.
  • Successfully harvesting and then incubating queen cells.
  • Successfully using apideas for the first time.
  • Successfully combining two colonies using the ‘newspaper’ method.

Further, I’ve also managed to harvest one super of spring honey (extracted and jarred) and one super of summer honey (still awaiting extraction). In other words, my single colony has multiplied to three, and given me nearly 50 jars of honey, in one season. If you’d have told me that back in January, I’d have been disbelieving.

The bees have now all been treated for Varroa, have plenty of stores and are ‘filling up the corners’ using the ivy flow. I’ve even had to add an extra super to my strongest hive. I now have to keep my fingers and toes crossed that all three of my colonies get through the winter without issue.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. solarbeez permalink
    September 25, 2014 2:20 am

    Yes, I think you deserve a pat on the back. I had so many swarms, I’m not getting any honey this year.

  2. September 28, 2014 10:26 am

    I really like your bee summary. It’s a great idea to sum up the bee path this year. I think you’ve done fantastic this year, keeping bees is not easy!

    • September 28, 2014 11:48 am

      Thanks for the thumbs up! Keeping bees is certainly a journey – a hugely enjoyable and at the same time challenging 😉

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