When uniting goes wrong

A swarm turned up in a bait hive built from two Paradise/ModernBeekeeping poly supers a month ago. The bees were steady on the comb and the dark queen was laying reasonably well. In the same apiary I had a failing queen in a colony in a double brood box so decided to unite them with the swarm. […]

Winding down

Here in Scotland the season is rapidly drawing to a close. All of the summer nectar sources – the lime, blackberry and heather – have stopped yielding and the bees are noticeably less busy, other than in the warmest parts of the day. Inside the hive the colony is segueing from summer to winter bee […]

Beekeeping fantasy vs. reality

There have been a couple of stories in the press recently that have made me think about the idealised version of beekeeping that is often promoted … with the reality of a lot of amateur beekeeping . Most recently was the announcement of the new CBBC show titled Show Me the Honey! which will be available […]

Cut more losses

This is a follow-on to the post last week, this time focusing on feeding and a few ‘odds and sods’ that failed to make it into the first 3000 words on reducing overwintering colony losses. Both posts should be read in conjunction with one (or more ) of my earlier posts on disease management for […]

Cut your losses

The stats for winter losses in the UK, Europe and USA can make for rather sobering reading. In the UK, losses over the last 12 years have fluctuated between 9% and 34%. This self-selecting survey includes responses from about 10% of the British Beekeepers Association membership (primarily England and Wales, despite the name). The average […]

Little dramas

This post was originally titled Drama queens. Apposite … it’s mostly about queens. However, the term drama queen refers to someone who overreacts to a minor setback … which is almost the complete opposite of what I’m intending to discuss. Instead, this post is about the – sometimes unseen – little dramas in the apiary. Things […]

No risk, no reward

“April showers bring May flowers”, or something close to that, is a poem that has its origins in the General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It means that the Atlantic low pressure systems that roll in from the west during April, often bringing rain, also account for the abundance of flowers that bloom in May. […]

Winter losses

I lost 10% of my colonies this winter. It’s always disappointing losing colonies, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. I suspect the two I lost were unavoidable … though, as you’ll see, they weren’t completely lost. April showers frosts Late April may seem like mid-season for many beekeepers based in southern England. While they were adding their […]

Frequently asked questions

The 2020/21 winter has been very busy with online talks to beekeeping associations. I’m averaging about five a month, with only the fortnight over Christmas and New Year being a bit quieter.  When chatting to the organisers of these talks it’s clear that they are getting increasingly successful . Audience numbers are encouragingly high as […]

2020 in retrospect

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote my retrospective review of the 2019 season. At the time I was thinking “What a nightmare! If I never again have a year like that it’ll be too soon.”. This was due to a major fire in my research institute which terminated a 30 year research programme and […]