Wednesday 30 March, 2016
When we moved to Dalmore in 2010 the prospect of establishing an apiary was something that excited us all. We got our first bees in 2011, and since then my dad has been looking after them with very little help from the rest of us, other than to eat the honey.
Last year he decided he'd like a break from the responsibility, so over the winter I took a beginner's bee-keeping course at the East of Scotland Beekeepers' Association, and now have the terrifying prospect of taking charge of the apiary!
We have three colonies currently, and not much information about them other than "that hive's a bit aggressive". So it's a bit of a voyage of discovery. :-)
Each colony now has a number, so we can talk about them without waving a finger in the general direction of the hive we're referring to, and I've started a record sheet for each hive. Here's a PDF for anyone who might be interested:
Until yesterday the sum total of my activity was hefting the hives in February to get a feel for how they'd coped over winter - well enough was my conclusion, hive 3 was really quite heavy, the other two heavy enough not to be concerned.
I'd also been watching out to make sure they were flying in March when the weather was good - they were, with good levels of activity at each hive, and the highest level at hive 3.
An inspection was needed to be sure there was queen activity, that stores were in place and there weren't any potential problems developing. Yesterday morning the weather was clear and sunny, a little cool but warming quickly, so I did my first ever inspection, accompanied by the old man for moral and practical support.
It was a learning experience. We started with hive 1 (of course!), which was relatively docile. There were clear signs of queen activity, but in my beginner's haze I didn't look closely for eggs or larvae, but did see capped brood cells. Hive 2 was much the same, slightly more populous and active, and we spotted the queen with the yellow dot on her back. We also found some honey stores in a couple of frames.
Hive 3 was absolutely bulging with bees. There are only 2-3 brood frames empty, and it was so active we didn't do a thorough inspection, just checked a couple of frames.
We added supers to all three hives, and would certainly hope for a honey crop from hive 3.
This week I will contact my local mentor to ask if he'll do an inspection with me, specifically for hive 3. I'm reasonably happy to work with the other 2 hives, but lack the confidence to handle the burgeoning colony in hive 3 at the moment.
So all three hives appear to be in good health, which is the main thing at this time of year, all appear to have healthy queens, and I survived my first inspection.