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This month in the apiary


It was good to have a half decent bit of weather in August, and I have just taken the last honey off my hives, leaving the bees at least a full super for their own use. I have had a bumper crop this year – I hope you have too!

Heather honey is lovely in itself, but extracting it is something else if you don’t want to destroy the comb! My bees have indeed been very busy on Crooksbury Common on the heather, and I have a good stash of heather honey to sell. I gave up trying to extract the last drops of heather honey from the frame – the best way I have found of getting most of it out of the frame is to agitate it a bit using a kitchen fork or an uncapping fork, then most of it spins out in the extractor. But not all of it comes out so the bees cleaned it all up when I put the frames back on the hives.

So now we are at the tail end of the beekeeping season – the first tray of Apiguard is on my hives, queen excluders are off, honey is jarred up, awaiting labels. I always have mixed feelings – sad that I won’t be looking at my bees many times more, but at the same time looking forward to a rest once the cleaning up is done. I have started the process of putting drawn comb in the freezer for 24 hours in case of wax moth – this will take a bit of time due to lack of capacity in my freezer, and the number of frames I have to do, but it is definitely worth it!

The doors on my hives have been useful – I have seen a few (European) hornets having a look at my colonies trying to see a way in, to no avail. The next thing in a month or so will be mouse guards – I know there are mice around because they are eating my courgettes!!!

What is going on in the hive?

The queen will be laying still but these bees will take the colony through the winter. Her laying rate will slow down though. The bees will be using the outside frames to pack with stores to use over the winter and will be ensuring the hive is well insulated. Defence remains an important role with wasps around and hornets. Don’t forget to spend a few minutes watching your colonies and looking out for Asian Hornet!

Check the larder

Forage is beginning to dwindle in my neck of the woods – the heather is almost over. However the Himalayan balsam continues, with rudbeckia, nasturtium and Michaelmas daisy soldiering on. I see signs of the ivy getting ready to flower – always attracting a wide range of insects.

Enjoy your bees!