St Albans Apiary Tour by Eric Margrave

The Apiary Tour with Peter Heath was held on Saturday 8 July, whilst still in the heat wave period there was a pleasant breeze which helped to keep everyone cool. The tour took in three different and distinct locations showing the variation of bee keeping apiaries. It was pleasing to see so many of the beginners from the recent course that St Albans had held; they joined in fully with the tour.

Location 1 was David and Elizabeth Brown’s house in Harpenden, before the work started with inspecting David’s hives the group was treated to morning coffee and biscuits. A long deep Darlington hive and a 14 x 12 deep national hive was inspected by Peter. He explained to the beginners about pollen collection and the flight pattern of bees, due to the landscaping of David’s garden the flight path of the bees could be clearly seen. Peter gave the beginners the opportunity to find the queens among David’s New Zealand colonies.

Then onto location 2 in Gustard Wood which is home to Anne Wingate’s Standard Nationals. The hives are located in a small clearing in a wood next to an apple orchard. The flight path of the bees at this location was fascinating, up like a chimney until they had cleared the trees and then only then did they disperse. Using Anne’s good hive examples Peter talked about disease prevention. As Anne had extracted honey only the week before the bees were busy filling the supers with nectar. After the task of inspecting the hives, the tour stopped for a picnic lunch in the apple orchard. During the lunch break Peter was treated to an intense question and answer session from all the beginners, who were amazed to know how many hives Peter managed as they were still struggling to get to grips with their own.

After lunch the tour moved onto the third and final location, St Albans Apiary on the Goranbury Estate. Peter was soon put to work and over 10 hives were inspected, he took time to inspect each beginners hive and gave advice pertinent to their own hive. The beginners were exceptionally keen to show off their hives and were practically walking on air once Peter had worked his magic. The busy day was finished off with afternoon tea and cakes, a gentle way to wind down from the excitement of the day.

It was an extremely pleasant day and pleasing to note so many new faces joining the old and familiar ones. It is always a pleasure watching Peter working with the bees. He gave invaluable advice to the members who kept bees at the St. Albans Apiary. They had experienced a high percentage of swarms due to queen cells being capped between the weekly examination. His recommendation was to clip the Queens to give that important extra time between examinations.

Thanks to all those who took part and helped organise the tour.

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