Winter hives

My bees are tucked up in their sad looked winter hives so it is a good time to ponder how my season has gone. Without a doubt 2016 has been my best year bee wrangling.

It has been a year of noes:

  • no swarms
  • no stings in the face
  • almost no varroa
  • erm ….. no honey

This year I set myself a few goals: to raise my own queens, build a new apiary and start using foundationless frames.

Queen raising has always the area of beekeeping I’ve been most confused by. I’ve attended many courses on but left few with any real sense of a method I could use. Often these courses try to cover as many different methods of making queens as possible, leaving me with a great sense of how other people cloud do it, but not with the skills to actually try it myself.

However; this year I did some research and found a wonderful weekend course run by Tiger Hall Beekeeping which taught the National Bee Unit method of Queen rearing. Over the weekend of the course I gained the skills to: graft, set up a hive for cell building and use mating nucs.

I learned two things raising bees in my apiary once I got home. I probably used way too many bees from my production hives; hence the lack of honey. And, to my shame, mating nucs can starve very quickly. Taking these lessons into next season I’m looking forward to developing my technique – Queen rearing is jolly good fun.

I also moved my apiary this year and finally started using foundationless frames. I’d been keen on going foundationless since I attended a talk given by Liz Knee who keeps all her bees in supers using the ROSE hive method. Apart from one or two messy frames I found running foundationless great fun. A good guide to the technique can be found here.

My goals for next year are rather modest:

  • Raise more queens and over-winter six to eight nucs with them.
  • Make some honey

I hope you have a good year and all your schemes and planning for the following season are successful.