My day on a Bee Safari
I have to admit that I'm a bee geek. I spend so much time reading, googling, talking, tweeting and facebooking about bees that I can't hide the fact. But I took my 'bee geekiness' to a whole new level when I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a one-day Bee Safari organised by my local beekeeping branch – the Warwick and Leamington Spa Beekeepers. What, may you wonder, would this entail exactly? Pretty much just looking at bees for five hours. I couldn't wait!
Fourteen of us were to learn more about bees from an oracle of beekeeping – Dave Sutton, a recently retired Regional Bee Inspector. I didn't want to miss any tidbit of information he imparted so, the journalist in me made sure that it was all recorded. For this I used my iPhone's voice recording app that was in the top pocket of my beesuit. I also took over 100 photos! Yes, bee geek.
On the safari, our first stop was the branch's apiary site at Warwick University. We then went to a smaller apiary at the university before going to a local beekeeper in Kenilworth, Val Dillon, who keeps her 10 or so hives at the bottom of her garden.
We went through nine hives in total and I learnt so much from how to mark the queen, a good laying pattern, chalk brood, sac brood, the different colours of pollen bees bring in (no, not just yellow), and how to treat the bees from varroa mite (I'll be sprinkling icing sugar over my own bees very soon!).
I even amused some university students because as we went from the first apiary site to the second, I was desperate for a loo break so we stopped on campus. There was a time I would have been embarrassed walking across a university with many students milling around wearing nothing but a bright orange bee suit and wellies but now, I just flashed them my biggest smile in an outfit that blatantly screamed beekeeper... or possibly Guantanamo Bay prisoner as I've been likened to in the past.
All in all, our day was the bee's knees (sorry!) and below are a few photos. Don't worry, not all 100 are going up....I want to keep some friends despite the fact that I've turned into a massive geek :)
|Dave removing the super from one of the hives|
|I practiced marking the queen using a drone as a guinea pig|
|Bizarrely the queen doesn't lay eggs above the wiring inside the frame|
|The bees are communicating by waggling their bums in the air to release pheromone|
|A sweet old fashioned hive on the second apiary site|
|Glistening honey and a bee eating some|
|And here we thought all pollen was yellow|
|A row of beekeepers on safari|
|Dave picks out some chalk brood with a toothpick|
|A modern beekeeping tool used to sweep bees off a frame|
|That is a long queen cell. To make her a queen, the worker bees feed her royal jelly|