The Murphy bees are also getting on well and I’ve cleared a super off each.
I briefly checked out the bees on the 5th August, a mini break from my holiday in Norfolk, just to make sure the apiary was OK.
I have just returned (21st August) from having a good look at the colonies at the Cemetery. The bees are all keeping pace with what I expect them to be doing during August. Brood tailing off, fewer drones around and orange/yellow pollen coming in. I checked this on my pollen chart and it is probably from Michaelmas daisy. I’ve taken a sample and will try to analyse it under a microscope to confirm this.
One colony had no brood and a virgin queen racing about on the brood frames, hopefully she will be mated soon and start laying. My remaining nuc has failed to produce a viable queen and now has laying workers, so that's the end of that one!!
I can now confirm that this year is the best for some time. There will be at least 450lbs of honey and 50 cut honey comb pieces. Twice as much as last year. Finding a market is the next exercise. 120lbs goes to the ice cream shop, that's a good start. Our local Meat NW5 (butcher & deli) want some, but selling through a shop means correct filling of the jars. Trading standards normally allow only + or – 3 grams and the labelling needs to be in accordance with regulations. My labels nearly meet these, except they don't include 'Product of the UK'.
While this great honey harvest gets plenty of copy, what about the cappings? Each time I extract honey, a bucket full of cappings + honey is generated. It is first broken up and put in a large sieve to drain off most of the leftover honey. The remainder is carted home and rendered down in my solar wax extractor. I have just been doing the most recent lot which will be added to the 3lbs already cleaned.
This wax will have a dirty underside which can be scrapped off when quite warm, afterwards it can be further purified for candles and furniture polish. Otherwise it can be exchanged for foundation. Thorne’s call it “Beeswax Conversion”. See page 17 for details where it tells you how many sheets of different sizes you can get for 1lb of wax.
Plans for next month
I must decide if the remaining honey supers are to stay on the hives for the winter or be extracted. All told, there are 6 full supers left which would yield another 150lbs. Do I really want so much honey? Varroa treatment must be done. I’m using MAQS (formic acid) again this year. It’s rather strong and the bees don’t like it, but it is only for a week. They don’t like thymol either, and Api-Guard stays on for a month. Short & Sharp! is my policy and formic acid penetrates cappings, so kills mites within brood cells.
I’ve had a really thorough search for flowers this July. The Sweet Chestnut is now over, but there is Buddleia, thistle and ragwort in rough areas that are not managed. Russian Vine, Privet and clover are also out.
Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead Heath has many wild flowers out that the bees seem to love. Rosebay Willow Herb, Purple Loosestrife and daisies are all attracting honey bees. The late Lime trees are coming into flower. This information applies to late July.
This August is continuing to provide the bees with forage, judging by the honey being stored. I’m not sure what there is except the Michaelmas Daisy I mentioned above.
The Kenwood Apiary
I’ve just visited our apiary and congratulate the Committee on the splendid ‘Composting Loo’. The whole apiary looks really good with the new storage area for equipment and the matching blue painted shed.
Beware, I’m setting aside my honey, cut comb, frame for extraction, candles, block of wax and photograph, all for the competition. To make this fun and worthwhile, please will you enter as many classes as possible to make this year’s show the best for many years.
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