by Jane Moseley
A big thank you to Malcolm High of the SE Herts group for a very interesting meet on Sunday.
Bishops Stortford members joined SE Herts at Malcolm's lovely home on a very hot afternoon. Malcolm has about 40 Hives and we were invited to have a look through some of those which are situated in his garden. Having taken over his wife's hobby which all started back in 1975 he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart and I am pleased to advise that Julia will be helping him from this point on which she is very excited about.
Malcolm bought a range of secondhand equipment which he has adapted to meet his requirements and has developed a coding system using coloured pins to enable him to know at a glance who is where, their age, strain and health. Very neat as it's weather proof unlike sheets of paper in/on boxes.
A nifty use of excess supers was to use them as a varroa floor - genius idea - especially for those who are not so handy on the DIY front. Take a Super attach Varroa Mesh then put your brood box on the top the Varroa then fall through, if you want to count then obviously you'll have to rig up some way to get your card in but otherwise very efficient way for the little blighters to drop away. A lot of the equipment had big cork bungs in which were an adaptation from the previous owner, who's name escapes me, an elderly gentleman who had devised a system of listening to the Bees via the cork using some sort of microphone device enabling him to listen to his hives to identify when they would be likely to swarm. By listening he only had to go through those that he could hear needed it thus saving his energies for those that really needed work to prevent them swarming. People are so clever, I think this is great - does anyone else listen to their Hives in this way? Holes where the bung had been now served as the Bees entrance.
Malcolm was raising his own strain of Bee from an Italian Queen he had acquired a few years previously and they were very calm and required very little smoke, darker than the Bees many of us keep. We were able to pass frames around the group and new and experienced Keepers handled frames and got involved throughout the inspections. It was great to see Solar extraction happening on such a beautiful day, although everyone was a tad warm in their attire. We then part took of refreshment, a mini buffet which was topped off with Ginger Beer - YUM!
Recharged we were ready to go to the Honey Room! Wow, what a great place everything you could possibly hope for. Hopefully, I will get this right so please forgive me if I miss out a step but there was so much to take in. Malcolm brings the honey in and then houses it in specially made boxes (old equipment reused again) with a light bulb housed within to keep it at Hive temperature. When he is ready to cap the frames he does this over a specially adapted sink to catch cappings and any honey run off. Frames then make their way to his 20 frame electric extractor and the honey is then put into buckets. These then transfer to a tank where it is drained from the bucket and into a fab device which involves a hoover for suction and rapid flow through the sieves.
From here the honey gets transferred to a tank where it is creamed before it makes it's way down a large hose which is connected to the most brilliant gadget. I can't recall it's name but it is a Honey splurter which only pours the right amount of the honey into the jar. You can change the volume according to your jar size. It is excellent and as Malcolm produces between 2-3000 jars a highly invaluable piece of equipment. Batch numbers are already done for this years honey crop with trays neatly stacked for the fruits of the Bees labours to fill them with the lovely Honey that they will produce.
At the final stages of the Honey Room demo, Derek announced that a swarm had been reported at a neighbours house and that Malcolm was required to do what Bee Keepers do. It was the end to a lovely afternoon and those who hadn't seen a swarm to get a first sighting. With this added attraction the Apiary Visit came to an all action close.
Once again thank you Malcolm for a very enjoyable Apiary Visit.