12 November 2013

I have started a new life as a beekeeper - got hold of 17 colonies from a very nice person who will give up beekeeping after 60 year! I feel honored to take over his bees and look forward to look after them.

My first task was to scrape all honey supers clean and wash and paint them. this is a tidious work, but when it is done I have almost "new" boxes again. I give them two good layers for oil house paint now, so that all the fumes will be gone by the time I need to start using them.

My honey harvest this year was good - 71.9 kg from two colonies - lovely heather honey. This is enough for me to start selling honey for the first time in my life. A very good friend Jeff designed my labels, and I have ordered them from the printer.

Living in a heather-only area, we cannot leave any honey for the bees for the winter. It is too strong for them, and they can easily get Nozema if they cannot get out for clensing (which they need to do very often if they feed on heather honey). This means that I need to feed them with sugar solution in the autumn, and each colony has been given around 15 kg of sugar each. Last time I visited the apiary, they were all quiet as the winter has set in with dark, cold and wet days here in Norway.

 

 

03 June 2012 - Omlarvingsdag/Queen rearing

My fellow beekeeper Dagfinn and I had a nice trip to Fyksesund in Hardanger for a queen rearing corse arranged by Hordaland Biröktarlag. We were around 15 participants, who were lucky to have the opportunity to attend the day, which was hosted by Kasper Krogh Hansen, a young Danish beekeeper who has settled down here at this beautiful spot of the world. Unfortunately, I haven't got pictures but hope to receive some from the day later in the week.

Most of us went back with queen larvaes in cup sets to be raised in our own apiaries. I could, unfortunately, not bring any home as I have not yet managed to get bees. I could have had some, but there are very strict rules for movement of bees in Norway to prevent spread of deseases. Therefore, you either have to send a request for movement to Mattilsynet, which is the authority in Norway who controls the regulation  for beekeeping, or you have to by them from certified breeders (such as Kasper). Luckily, Kasper has promised me that I can buy a nuc from him now, and it can be delivered in the beginning of July. So no more spanners in the wheels for me now :)

I don't mind if I cannot have any honey this year; all I would like to do is to have a couple of colonies to over winter this year to get me started.

Thank you to Kasper and his wife Anita for their hospitality and for opening up their home for us :)


Photo: Peter Biodlaren Overdick ("borrowed" from his Facebook page)

22 May 2012

Da er tiden inne for omlarvingsdag pá Sotra. Den 26. mai har Bent Bötter invitert til omlarvingsdag/bigárdsbesök, og jeg fár min förste skikkelige innföring i Norsk birökt. Selv har jeg fátt tilbud om kjöp av det förste bifolket mitt, som jeg gleder meg til á fá satt pá plass. Má kontakte grunneier i dag, og deretter háper jeg at alt skal klaffe :) Vi har store muligheter for god lynghonning i dette omrádet, sá det lover ogsá bra :)

Kan nesten ikke vente til jeg fár mine egne bier igjen :)



Bilde fra omrádet jeg önsker á benytte - holder fingrene krysset for á fá
tillatelse til á plassere biene mine her

A picture from the area I hope to place my bees - I keep my fingers crossed
to have the permission from the land owner



The time has come for me to get the first proper introduction to Norwegian bee keeping. I will be attending a queen rearing day at one of my colleague beekeeper. I have been offered to buy a colony of bees from another colleague and all that is left is to get the permission from the land owner to place my bees where I most would like to keep them. It is an area with a lot of heather in the surroundings, so can't be better for the autumn honey. I can't wait to get started :)


Fra en annen vinkel - hele dalen er vátmark, sá nok tilgang pá vann for mine damer :)
From another angle - the whole valley is a wet area, so there will be enough water for my ladies :)

I have finally managed to get hold of bees here in Norway and can continue my fantastic beekeeping hobby!


                                                                                 Photo: Lysana Robinson


A very kind bee buddy in Hordaland Birökterlag has promised to prepare a nuc for me that I can use to place my new grafted queen egg into. I am so happy and I can't wait to start again.

The queen is from a race called Kranier here in Norway, and is a very calm and good bee.

 

I will start posting on my blogg again, and can't wait to start my beekeeping hobby here in Norway :)

 

By the way; here on the south west coast of Norway it is still not very warm, and the bees have just started flying a little.

22 May 11 - Honey extraction

I had to sell my bees this spring, as I am planning on relocating to Norway this summer. However, as part of the sale contract I did the honey extraction together with the new owner today :) We had around 18-20 kg honey from the three hives and we are happy with that. The honey is medium dark and has a lovely aroma. Had forgotten how lovely the spring honey can be.

This was my last visit to the apiary here, if the new owner doesn't need help before I go.

I will continue the blogg when I am set up in Norway, and I thank my lovely land lady for letting me use her land for the bees - this is an absolute heaven for them.



Bees in the garden.


Photos: Lysana Robinson


17 Aug 10 - Webbs bees have a new laying queen!

Went to do an inspection after we have been away for two weeks on holiday in Norway. It was exciting to find that the Webbs bees have succeded to produce a new queen. There were a lot of eggs and grubs at all stages. The number of frames of bees had increased to 5 and 4 of them were full of grubs and eggs. We are very happy now.

The other two hives were nicely expanding and we may have 8 frames of honey to be extracted in a weeks time and they will still have enough stores for the winter. Good to know that they have enough food and that they will not need feeding.

We can't wait to start with bees in Norway. The area where we live is filled with heather.


A picture taken not far from our house in Norway.

04 Aug 10 - Inspection waiting for a new queen to start laying

We went to the apiary today to check on the bees. The Swindon and Purton bees are expanding nicely now and we are glad we don't need to worry about them for the winter to come. They also have quite a lot of stores.

The new Webbs hive did not have a laying queen yet, but there was a hatched queen cell there on the frame of eggs Bridget gave me. There were polished cells, so hopefully she will be out laying right now.

25 Jul 10 - First Honey extraction

This little report from our first extraction day is mostly meant for myself to remember the process and for all new beekeepers who have not tried to extract yet. What I miss in my beekeeping training is how to perform the actual extraction process. We had heard about it, but never seen it (other than the visit I had to a large extraction factory in Australia in the winter). 


Lots of golden honey emerging. I decided to put the knife away and only use the uncapping fork

First challenge was: Where can I find an extractor, as I can't spend so much money on one since we are only going to keep bees in England this year (we will be moving to Norway in 2011 (fingers crossed). The Swindon Beekeeping club has a club extractor they lend out to its members, and that is really of good help. Nigel went out for a drink on Thursday evening and met one of his colleagues, Dave, and they started talking about bees (as you do when you're out drinking)  and as if magic happened; Dave had the club extractor at his house and he had planned to extract his honey on the coming Sunday! What a coincidence.  



The 4 frames club extractor

Next challenge: Which other equipment do we need?  This is the list I came up with (which is detailed, but is an absolute need as you are far too sticky to start looking in cupboards and draws for equipment in the middle of the process)

1. Sharp knife (which I did not use at the end)    
2. Uncapping fork
3. Bucket for cappings (and one extra just in case)    
4. Settling tank
5. Something to filter the honey through (I ended up with a metal strainer with a muslin bag tied underneath it for double filtering)
6.  Extra muslin for the capping bucket (fixed with a large elastic band around the bucket)    
7. Oven roasting pan (to hold the frames over when uncapping - advice from my bee friend Bridget)
8. Spatula
9. Cloth (to wipe up the honey with every time you spill a little)
10. Plastic bags (to put all sticky stuff in when you don't need it any longer)
11. Rubber bands 
12. Pegs (to fix the muslin bag to the strainer)
13. A couple of spoons (to place through the hole and handle of the strainer to keep it in place over the settling tank)
14. A smaller bowl (just to be used for smaller amounts of honey you need to place somewhere after something did not go to plan)
15. Long empty work space (to make a production line)
16. Chair (to place the settling tank onto under the extractor, which at this stage has been lifted onto the kitchen worktop to get high enough to get the honey running out to the settling tank) 

We turned up to David's place on Sunday morning after we had harvested 12 frames to be extracted. It was very exciting and we were lucky, as Dave had already spun his honey in the morning and had gone through the experience once already when we started our process.

We made a nice production line starting with the super with the frames at one end, thereafter the capping space with the last piece of equipment, the capping bucket with the muslin fixed with a large rubber band to keep it in place.
 

The process works well if you make a good production line and have all at hand before you start

It is worth knowing that you will need someone to assist you when doing the capping job; handing over the frames and holding onto the capping bucket when you scrape off the cappings into the muslin. Leave the cappings in the muslin as it will take a long time for the honey to drip off. 


Uncapping tray wiht the bucket for the capping to the right

We uncapped the first 4 frames (don't forget to uncap both sides) and the spinning could begin. Spin first at low speed both sides of the frames and thereafter you can use a little more speed to spin all the honey out of the comb. This was the first exciting experience - seeing the honey slung out of the comb and onto the walls of the extractor. 


Spinning

We carried on with the extraction until we had finished all 12 frames (just make sure there is enough space under the frames for the honey. If the extractor becomes too full; a) You will not be able to spin as the frames will be stuck in honey, and b) the extractor will be very heavy to lift up to a higher surface to get the honey out of it. 


Nigel and Dave turning the frames  in the extractor around

When the spinning had finished, then we lifted the extractor the worktop and placed the settling tank underneath. You can use a purpose built double strainer, but we used a metal kitchen strainer with a muslin bag underneath to achieve double straining of the honey. The honey should be clear in the settling tank, to be ready for bottling after it has settled. 


Fixing the muslin bag to the strainer with pegs

We got 25 lbs (around 11 kg) of honey from 12 frames (minus the 3 where the honey had crystallised). We are very happy with our first extraction and look forward to the next at the end of August.We now will leave the honey in the settling tank for at least 24 hours to allow all air bubbles to get to the surface and then we wilol be ready to bottle our first jar of honey.

Having said all this, we also had around 3 frames where the honey had crystallised and could not be slung out. We tried to warm up one of the frames, but the wax melted into the roasting pan too. I put the honey and the half melted wax into muslin and strained it manually by squeezing out the liquid honey. It made a lovely jar of very unclear honey for our own consumption, containing some melted wax and pollen. This is possibly the tastiest honey we extracted - it was lovely on a slice warm fresh bread.

23 July 10 - New beekeeping buddy

I have got a new beekeeping buddy; Cyan my good friend has decided to take a closer look at beekeeping and possibly take up the hobby. She already has got herself a bee suit (which unfortunately is far too big as I suggested to her to buy size large - same as mine - but the sizes seem to vary quite a lot) and can come to do inspections together with us.Cyan turned up as we were finishing inspection of the Swindon bees and helped us through the other two inspections.

 
Cyan opening up the colony 

When the turn came to the Webbs bees, we let Cyan do the inspection, which se thoroughly enjoyed. She went to frame by frame to check for eggs or queen - and could not find any. Unfortunately, this colony is now on its 4th week of being queenless and we will give them a new frame of eggs tomorrow.
 


Checking for eggs and the queen

23 Jul 10 - Routine inspection

It's time for another routine inspection, which does not have any extra plans involved, other than checking if the Webbs bees have a queen or eggs and to see how many frames of honey there are to be harvested tomorrow.

To start with the honey; we now have 8 frames fully capped in the Purton hive and 4 in the Swindon hive. There are around 6 other, but they are partly capped and we will not take the chance of extracting unripe honey.

Purton bees
The Purton bees look to have got their new queen going. We found a full frame of eggs, which we are very happy for. Finally, we may have the colony built up enough to ripen the honey above and to, hopefully, bring in more honey in the coming month if we get some good weather and a good nectar flow. We only found 3 varroa mites on the varroa board, which gives us 0.6 drops per day and we are happy with that. The bees were well behaved and we will give them a score of 1 out of 5 today (5 being very bad behaviour).

Swindon bees
The Swindon bees have really expanded since last visit. They seem to have got the queen going and she is laying a lot of eggs per day now. There were a lot of brood at all stages on 4 frames and the bees now fill 9 frames, which is good for this colony that has suffered with losing their queen at the worst time of the year.


A nice, full frame of capped brood in the Swindon hive

We also found the queen and she was happily walking around the frame and did not take any notice of the photographer trying to get a good shot.
 

Swindon bees' queen

We found 8 varroa mites, which give us 1.6 mite drops per day. Not a cause for concern, but we need to do another icing flour dusting exercise again soon.

Webbs bees
The Webbs bees were still in a bit of a bad state. The number had decreased to 3 frames of bees since last visit (not strange as there is no laying queen. Bridget, my bee friend from Swindon, has promised me a frame of eggs, which we will pick up on our way to harvest the honey tomorrow. There were 3 dropped varroa mites on the board, which give us 0.6 drops per day.Nigel had been up since 3:30 in the morning on bird ringing and was shattered. He laid down in the grass and had a little snooze, listening to the bees flying out and in of the apiary.
 



 

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