Monday, July 11, 2011

Task #42 COMPLETED: Beekeeping

I've not updated this for a year, but I have been slowly getting on with things. I won't complete, but I will get a good number ticked off my list - including this one.

Over the last weekend I was doing something new and exciting. I was looking after some BEES.

Ok, learning how to look after them properly rather than being, like, a babysitter or something. Which is harder than you might think. There's about a billion ways in which they can go wrong, there's disease, there's what to do if they swarm, or you accientally squash the queen, there's recognising the different things you find on a comb, and numbers and grubs and mites and the fact that ivy honey is vile, vile stuff.


There's legislation to read, and stuff to buy (or build, but in the first instance just cough up), and sites to find and people to notify. There's how to sell your honey (if you're lucky enough to get any) and recognising that bees are pets as much as a cat or dog. You have to learn how to spot an egg, and to stop pointing at bees going "there's the que- oh, wait no it's a drone".


Two days wasn't nearly enough, and it was done in the wrong order. So we were bombarded with terminology from the get-go which would be explained in later sessions but because we didn't know what it was, we asked the questions in too-early sessions. Beekeepers like to talk - well, this lot do, anyway - and so we'd get off topic and by the end of day one we were half an hour over and a session behind. Yes, we caught up on day two but we were still an hour over by the end of the day.


We got two sessions in the apiary; on neither occasion did I spot the (unmarked) queen. On the second, neither did the tutor, so that's ok. But when stuff looks like this:


then it's hardly surprising.

Basically, though, I loved it. I liked the bee suits, the hives, the way you can tell how annoyed the bees are after a couple of minutes being surrounded by them. The calmness that you absolutely must have before doing anything with the hive. The descriptions of diseases were a bit scary but being given hard data was satisfying. And extracting honey is a total joy (and I have a jar of honey from Temple Newsam that I extracted myself [well, partially]! And it's tasty!) even when you get flecks of stuff that looks suspiciously like bee bits floating around in it.

Am currently on the lookout for somewhere to deposit hives. I want city centre, but I will probably take anywhere...

(more photos from the weekend are here.)

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