The Beekeeping Year Begins
The beekeeping year starts straight after harvesting the crop and extracting the honey produced by the bees by spinning it out of the honey frames in the extractor and bottling the honey ready for the shops and storing the rest to bottle throughout the year or until your supply runs out, which happens every year as its so popular with the consumer. You get the bees ready for the winter making sure they have enough stores to get them through the winter and tying the hives down securely for the winter storms. It’s a very busy time as you have to clean all the hives, not in use and get them ready for the following year and make a supply of frames ready for the summer season.
Xmas comes around and everyone wants the locally produced honey and other products produced by the beekeeper like Beeswax Lip Balm, Beeswax Candles, and we even make our own Mead ( Honey Wine) for the Xmas table like that as served at the banquet in Bunratty Castle, for the Xmas presents for their friends. We read about beekeeping do more Beekeeping courses attend meetings promoting beekeeping and helping others explore beekeeping as a hobby and interest helping our environment and our bio-diverse countryside and helping to save the honey bee from extinction.
In around St Patrick’sDay, we are itching to have a look at our hives which are starting to wake up from their winter slumber. Signs of life are welcomed when we see activity emerging from the hive flying off into the countryside foraging for early pollen and nectar to feed the ever-increasing family in the hive which goes down to about 8000 bees over the winter to 65000 in the height of the summer. It’s a beautiful sight to see these little creatures arriving back to the hive with a full heavy load of yellow, or white, or red, or green, pollen swaying from side to side to make a safe landing on the front of the hive entrance and waddling in past the sentry guard bees offloading the cargo and taking off back to the same plant they came from for more of the same. You would spend hours sitting with them and looking at their comings and goings all day.
From March on the work is every day checking the hives to see if they are building up ok have enough stores to feed their young, giving them enough space to hang up the nectar to dry reducing the nectar from 80%water to 18% honey which they store in cells in the hive and cap over with wax. As the hive builds up to its full strength for bringing in the main crop of Blackberry and clover honey you have to keep an eye that the colony is not making plans to swarm or making Queen cells to start another colony.
It takes time to learn all that is needed to know to be able to keep bees successfully to be able to take the surplus of honey from the hive without being too greedy and leaving them enough honey stores to get the colony through the winter. When this time of the year comes about its rewarding taking off the surplus boxes of honey and bringing them home to the honey house for extraction. Westport honey has a state-of-the-art extraction plant house where the honey is extracted from the comb in the hive to the glass jar ready for sale in the local shops.
That’s the time of the year when all the family and friends gather to offer all the help, they can give for the reward of the honey they manage to take with them (little work for loads of honey). More information about the beekeeping year click here: FIBKA