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Harvesting honey is a real labour of love

It certainly does take many hours to extract the honey then clean up after, here’s the list of tasks!

  • First I have to protect myself from stings
  • Fire up a smoker to sedate the bees
  • Crack the hive open
  • Lift heavy boxes
  • Pull out the frames, trying not to squash bees
  • Brush the bees off the combs, or visit the day before to place a clearer board!
  • Transport the frames to my home for processing
  • Cut the wax capping off each frame with a knife 
  • Put them in an extractor to spin out the honey
  • Filter out all the wax etc
  • Clean up the floors, counter top, extractor, me!

And if that’s not enough hard work, the frames have to go back to the hives again….

This is the future of beekeeping. I’d love to convert our hives to this new system, better for the beekeeper, me, and easier for the bees. The company, Flow-Hive has raised over $6 million and has gone in to production delivering units from December 2015

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What do honey bees do all day?

You’ve seen bees buzzing around the garden but have you ever wondered what goes on inside the beehive?

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe honey bee has many duties during it’s life. You can see in the chart all the different tasks depending non their age

  • 0-4 days: Call cleaning and incubation
  • 3-12 days: Feeding larvae
  • between 6th & 10th day: First nurser flights, around midday
  • 6-15 days: Wax-making and comb-building
  • 8-16 days: Reception and storage of nectar; packing of pollen in cells
  • 14-18 days: They get to guard the entrance( this is when I see them!), clear debris and funeral bearer duties
  • 19th day: Begin to pay attention to the waggle dance (google search results)
  • 18-30/35 days: Foraging for honey and pollen ( this is when you see them)
  • 25-30/35 days: Collecting propolis

A normal healthy colony of bees will have 10,000 or less in winter to over 50,000 in the high summer. The queen can live 3-4 yrs but is only efficient for 2 yrs. She gives of a pheromone that the worker bees need to stay happy and this reduces as the queen gets older. The worker then may decide to replace her!

During high summer the foraging worker bees are working very hard and may only live for 5 weeks but during the winter can live 6 months.

In the short video below you can see the bee bringing in pollen attached to their legs…

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Bees’ Needs – 5 Simple Actions for Pollinators

Part of Jacobite’s strategy is to raise awareness of the pressures that pollinators are under and show ways we can help make a change. This article is from the Wildlife trust in conjunction with the Governments National Pollinator Strategy ( read it here

Insect pollinators matter. Through pollinating wild and garden plants they contribute to biodiversity. By pollinating crops they provide variety in our diets. They are valued by YOU, the public.

At least 1500 species of insects pollinate plants in the UK including bumble bees, the honey bee, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths. All have complex life cycles and specific needs. Most require food in the form of pollen and nectar, and need a home for shelter and nest building. The number of insect pollinators is highest in the summer coinciding with peak plant growth and supplies of nectar and pollen

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that provide nectar and pollen as food for bees and other pollinators throughout the year. For example, pussy willow, primroses and crocuses in spring, lavenders, meadow cranesbill and ox-eye daisies in summer, ivy and hebes in autumn, and mahonia shrubs and cyclamen in winter. 

2. Let it grow wild

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectLeave patches of land to grow wild with plants like stinging nettles and dandelions to provide other food sources (such as leaves for caterpillars) and breeding places for butterflies and moths.

3. Cut grass less often

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectCut grass less often and ideally remove the cuttings to allow plants to flower.

4. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectAvoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects, in places like grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.

5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides 

Think carefully about whether to use pesticides especially where pollinators are active or nesting or where plants are in flower. Consider control methods appropriate to your situation and only use pesticides if absolutely necessary. Many people choose to avoid chemicals and adopt methods like physically removing pests or using barriers to deter pests. If you choose to use a pesticide, always follow the label instructions.

 Read the full article at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/Bees-needs