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Retirement bee keeping

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Bee keeping is the perfect retirement hobby and one you can share with all the family - even young grandchildren.

Bee keeping is the perfect retirement hobby. Honey bees are some of the most fascinating little creatures native to our shores.  And if you’re lucky enough to have grandchildren bee keeping is something you can share across the generations.

So here are some images we took in October when we went to inspect our newest colony. We bought this as a nucleus early in July.  A bit too late in the season to expect any honey crop, so we concentrated on building up the colony in time for the winter.

Bees take centre stage, but supported by our three year old grandson. He was stung by a bumble bee in the Spring, but that didn’t put him off. So hope you enjoy some of the pictures, and we’re all looking forward to our own honey from this hive next year.

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On our way for our new apprentice's first beekeeping lesson. 3 year old grandson and retired grandad.

So it’s off to the apiary for the first lesson. It’s a gloomy day but quite warm. If possible we want to avoid opening the hive in bad weather.  Bees start to get a bit ratty if it’s windy or raining heavily, and if it’s too cold the brood might start to cool down which does them no good at all. At least it’s not raining and there’s no wind to speak of.

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A puff of smoke to keep the bees quiet before opening the colony. Apprentice standing by with the hive tool because we'll need it soon.

A puff of smoke to keep the bees quiet before opening the colony. Apprentice standing by with the hive tool because we’ll need it soon. Unfortunately our spare bee suit was bought for a cousin five years older – and with room for growth. So both the sleeves and the legs of his bee suit had to be turned all the way up. Looks a bit like Yoda, but who’s watching?

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Checking the first frame of the colony. Comb nicely drawn across the comb and packed full of honey to keep the bees going until Spring. Unfortunately the smallest size of Marigolds was still far too big for little hands so fingers weren’t much use.

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Closer to the centre of the colony now. Showing the apprentice unhatched brood in the centre of the frame surrounded by pollen with honey stores in the white band filling the rest of the frame.

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Now this looks interesting.  Time for a closer look. The queen’s still laying eggs and here are some uncapped brood cells. Bee larvae curled up at the bottom waiting for the adult nurse bees to feed them.

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We’ve checked all the frames now and everything going well. The crown board replaced and apprentice helping feed bees with sugar syrup. Worker bees will take syrup down into the hive.  Some of it they will convert into wax, the rest they will store as honey.  Honey bees do not hibernate so we have to make sure they have enough stores to carry then through to Spring. Notice how carefully the apprentice is pouring to avoid any spillage that might attract wasps and any other bees that could be tempted to try robbing our colony.

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Last part of the inspection is to replace the roof to make it weather proof. As you can see this is a two man job. The roof is quite heavy so it’s very important to avoid banging the hive with it because that might upset the bees. This apiary is quite sheltered so no need to put a brick on the roof to stop it being blown off.

That gets us to the end of the first lesson for the bee keeping apprentice. Time to start thinking about what we’ll need for next year. Maybe some smaller gloves to start with?

(And thanks to Mum for standing by in case of emergencies and for taking the pictures.)

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