A Whirl Wind Tour.. from Welwyn to Barnet via Croxley Green.
September has been busy but fun, I have met lots of lovely people. So in order to report back fairly I am keeping 2 of this months reports back for the next newsletter
A Peek Inside a Bee Inspector’s Hives!
It all started on the 11th September with Welwyn Group. I had missed one of their earlier apiary visits and wanted to be sure that I got a site visit in before everything moved indoors. Obviously nothing is straight forward and their meet coincided with our meet, which I was hosting so it was to be a full on Bee Day.
When I arrived at the Apiary site I was happy to see more idylls of the Hertfordshire countryside. Beyond the gate was a lush paddock with the farmhouse and out buildings bordering on two sides. Despite the shiny new gate there was the feel of a Victorian farm as a wide variety of of domestic fowl were running around doing their thing - Geese, Ducks, and a whole host of chickens. Peter was there ready and waiting with all his Bee paraphernalia neatly boxed up in his boot and a warm welcoming smile.
I don’t know why but I had this notion that Peter had done all the exams to become a Bee Inspector and hadn’t been keeping bees for more than 10 years because he looks so young. Don’t ask me where I got this idea from - it just came to me in my meeting him previously. Any way you could have knocked me down with a feather when he told me he’d been keeping Bees for over 25years! Gob smacked I was and still am.
Due to the weather forecast and the grumbling weather - dull overcast and a tad damp - not many of the local group had turned out to see Peter do what may well be his last inspection of the season.
The objective of the meeting was to ascertain the food stores for each of the hives, remove Queen Excluders where appropriate and to ensure that the Bees were ready for winter. Having already been treated for Varroa with thymol it was just a question of checking the brood levels and the feeding as required. Having left them with additional honey stores this year to see how they fared and of the 7 hives we inspected 3 required feeding. A young visitor popped by with his Mum to check out exactly what goes on at an Apiary visit and both were provided with veils so that they could get a closer look.
Others in the group already had their wood pecker protection sorted and were ready for Winter.
Welwyn is a strong group with over 60 members and have 2 Apiary sites with a third having been offered. Earlier this year the administration of the group was redefined and has enabled the group to work more cohesively and has strengthened their operations and given them a greater sense of organisation and direction.
Top tip from Peter - clean your tools in soda crystals - flipping brilliant it really does work!
It’s a Bee World
The Capel Manor open day is co located with the City Farms event which draws in people from all over London and SE Herts. It is an event supported this year in whole by SE Herts. Honey was for sale, course information available, a colouring station and an Observation Hive - complete with wasps. The latter with the wasp inclusion was a big attraction for the children in attendance, they thoroughly enjoyed that whole bee on wasp action, which seemed to be very long lasting.
In support of SE Herts I hauled over my extractor and a couple of supers which weren’t all ready and had fun doing demos with children of all ages dipping their fingers and getting truly sticky. At 2.15 I had to leave to get to the next .....
Location Location Location!
As we all know the siting of our Hives is a key consideration at the planning stage. Well South West Herts were in the right place when it came to Apiary sites back in the day.
I pulled into Croxley Green to discover that they had a wonderful Steam Fair on the Green. Nestled in a walled garden gathered a group of folk beneath the shade of the trees in the dappled sunlight with a kettle on a gaz stove. Robin the Chair introduced me and we were away inspections ahoy, split into 2 groups.
A group apiary site with 2 divisional hives which has been within there since the group started. While watching and listening to the advice being given by Frank’s mentor Brian. I learnt that the man I was speaking to was SW Herts Presidential representative, and what an interesting man Brian is with a family steeped in Bee Keeping, he is the 5th/6th generation to keep Bees with over 50 hives. To hear someone make reference to ordering jars by the pallet and sugar by the ton for personal use was an eye opening notion. I look forward to catching up with him again for my legacy book.
New members to the group benefit from the mentoring system they operate, this is a pattern that has emerged throughout the county Apiaries. Potential Bee Keepers were in attendance and enjoyed the experience immensely. Secretary Diane was the holder of the Apistan strips which were ordered as a division and then members could buy at the price of £5.00 per hive, a brilliant system I thought. This results in the site all having the same treatment which can be changed year on year according to the results -simple, effective and intelligent.
I had such a good time, I am going back!
THANK YOU to everyone for their hospitality and warm welcome.
Education Education Education! - a full report on my time at Buzzworks
Later that week I stopped by Buzzworks and met with Robin and his team. Now I have to say that a year ago I had no real idea who or what Buzzworks was or is, but when I was informed by a fellow BSBKA member I became intrigued to learn more. So in my capacity as Honorary President I had perfect excuse for a nose around.
Reaping the Reward - time spent with Barnet
Brilliant blue skies welcomed Suzy Perkins, the Honey Show Judge, and I to the Barnet Honey Show. Barnet is the largest of the divisions with 100+members a fact reflected in the entries to the show - 47 honeys and a full selection of bakes, wax and mead.