Monday 21 February 2022

A welcome bee sting

We keep bees for honey but I don't think of myself as a beekeeper. Rather, a smallholder who keeps bee who are. We do have our successes, and whilst we get modest amounts of honey, and bees themselves are fascinating creatures, things don't always go as well as planned. For example, I set up two new colonies during the summer past but neither have survived the winter. One reason is that I don't think that they reached critical mass by the end of the summer to sustain themselves through the winter. This is essential for temperature and humidity control, as well as ensuring that there are enough bees within the colony to maintain the minimum capacity required taking into account the expected losses.

I saw some bees from our strongest colony flying a few week's ago when we had a relatively mild spell and some sunshine. But not recently. When I checked their supplementary feed not as much of it had been consumed as I had expected. I did not want to open up the hive and let cold air in to check so I began having doubts about whether this colony too had survived or not.

With the recent gales I decided to strap the hive down down to reduce the risk of it blowing over. In the process my doubts were allayed. A few bees flew out, disturbed by what I was doing, and one stung me on the back of the neck. Keeping bees, you do get the odd sting now and again. This one I was strangely grateful for.

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