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Beekeeper’s Notes: New Broom Sweeping Clean In The Apairy

Published on: 1 May, 2022
Updated on: 30 Apr, 2022

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

There is a change in our household. My (very definitely) better half is getting more involved in the Coakley bees and the new broom is sweeping very clean.

Last year’s queen in a hive from the allotment is looking good.

It all started a couple of years ago. I was busy on other things and getting a bit bored with the less attractive sides of keeping bees.

Beekeeping has a great press. We think of hot summer days, a beekeeper with a pipe in his mouth and a very relaxed look about him. Bees buzz lazily around doing what busy bees do.

Hive inspections are fascinating but very physical, hard work.

All true of course at times (without the pipe bit for me). Certain parts I love; swarm collecting and hive inspections are always fascinating. And talking to people about bees. Very important that, having a good gas to other beekeepers and neighbours about bees and insects.

But other parts can be hard. It’s physical work, lugging heavy brood boxes around dressed up in a restricting bee suit.

Maintenance of the boxes and equipment takes time and harvesting the honey has two or three days of uproar in the house with the windows closed to keep out flying intruders and the kitchen off-limits.

One measure of the quality of the queen is a solid pattern of brood laid with nearly every cell with a bee waiting to emerge, as on this photo.

Marie didn’t want us to be without our bees, and neither did I really. So practical person that she is, she has started formal beekeeper training and taking over many parts of our apiary.

So far, it is great. We are keeping the bees although we have retracted a bit. We’ve left the allotment and reduced our hives to around three or four.

Having fewer hives will be less work (or is it less hives and fewer work?) but riskier from a beekeeping point of view. You can lose a couple of hives during a season due to the many factors affecting living beings. But if you only have three hives to start with, that could be a problem.

Anyway, we shall see and here’s to many more years happy beekeeping here.

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