Sunday, May 13, 2007

Report on Beekeeping Course

Well I didn't get stung and I had a wonderful time. The instructors were undoubtedly knowledgeable and experienced. The talks were predictably dry but my intrinsic interest in the subject kept me from gnawing off my own leg.

But the hands-on session was brilliant. We all went out to some hives and watched as the demonstrator opened them up and took out the frames covered with bees. We passed them around so we all got a chance to handle them. And we saw the honey and pollen stores, and all the stages of the bee lifecycle - eggs, larvae, capped cells containing pupae, and adult workers and drones. We couldn't find the queen but I'm sure we will in a fortnight when I go back for the second part of the course.

So apart from the hands-on part with the hives I think my favourite thing I learned all day was a tip about how to avoid conflicts with your neighbours. You get an (empty) hive and put it in a conspicuous part of your garden for a few weeks. If your neighbours are cool with it, well and good. But if someone comes and complains loudly that they've been stung, you can show them that whatever stung them didn't come from your hive - your hive is empty, see? After that they'll feel so foolish you won't get any more complaints from them after you do get your bees.

I'm dying to get started with my own bees. I'll have to go back to the local association and see if I can get any good second-hand equipment and a nucleus (that's a queen and a few workers, just enough to start a new colony).

7 comments:

Sara said...

Sounds like you enjoyed the course and what a great tip about the empty beehive - ingenious!
Look forward to further beekeeping updates.
Sara from farmingfriends in Yorkshire

Korenwolf said...

I went for the more direct approach and spoke to all my neighbours when we started to think about getting a hive and made sure they were all happy (or at least not opposed) to them. So far they've put up with swarms in both years.

However the other trick is to put aside some honey as bribes for them in each season. There's nothing like free food to make people think a second time about complaining :)

bill of Ballaugh said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your day. Your story about the empty hive reminds me of the story of the mother who was dreading the car trip with her little ones to the ferry for the coming holiday. One Saturday morning she packed the car with all the bags and toys and holiday paraphernalia and the two children. They had hardly set out when the children began to fight. "If you two don't stop fighting, there'll be no supper" she yelled at them. The arguing continued. A little later "Stop the fighting or we'll turn round and go back home!" The fighting and bickering continued. As the next roundabout came up she warned them, "Right you two, that's it. If you don't start behaving we are turning round at the roundabout and going home." As the children ignored her, she went right round the roundabout and headed back home. There, she unpacked the car and, silently, put everything away again. When the children complained she reminded them they had had three warnings. Silence. Two weeks later, on the weekend she had booked the holiday for, she again packed the car, again warned them about their behavious and the possible consequences, and set out for the ferry port. Silence all the way.

Ally said...

We might be able to help you out there if you can't get any closer to you. Ours have been busy swarming. So if you'd like one, do let me know - rather than the four hives we started off with we now have six ... and with a baby on the way we are starting to think "eeek! that's a lot of bees!" :).

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