Sunday, 4 April 2021

Busy Bees and Liquid Gold

 We have had bees at the farm for a few years now.

We originally purchased a box for Brian's 60th birthday and after a few years  a friend in town who has bees supplied our first nuc of bees to us. We gradually added a few more hives and Brian and our friend Rob have been caring for them.

Our main reason to have bees originally was to increase the pollination of plants here at the farm as there had been a decline in bees in our area. We agreed  with Rob that if he helped look after our hives and  harvest the honey he could take it and sell  at our local craft shop and just give us some to use personally.

So, Rob has been a regular visitor over the recent years, sharing his long earned knowledge and expertise passed down to him from 2 generations of bee keepers prior to him, and sharing many, many cups of coffee and conversations on our back verandah.

The  photos in this post  show  randomly some of his and Brian's work with the bees.




When we were going through the drought we had to feed  our bees a sugar and water syrup and sometimes honey  to help them make it through.We used these bird water containers, and after removing them the bees came and cleaned up any remaining honey.


Forgive my fascination with photographing these amazing little creatures but I just love them These pictures were taken while they were cleaning up the remaining sugar water and some honey we had fed to them.





Our son gave us a Flow Hive  that Brian painted up ready to put into action.




One day we were sitting out on the back verandah having coffee and  Brian suddenly noticed a swarm of bees flying by, we immediately rushed out banging spoons on  saucepans, as we had been told  that it may help the swarm land and gather together.... well guess what !! it worked.
We made a phone call to Rob and he came out with a box to collect them.



Once the queen was in the box the rest of the bees flock to follow her.

Over the next few hours the swarm  slowly marched itself into the box.


We relocated them later that night to  the Brother in Law's farm down the road,



Unfortunately a couple of days later they were gone, swarmed again, but we did learn some valuable lessons.

A few days later Rob managed to catch another swarm in town and brought them here,

He  merged them with an existing hive here, by using an old method of placing a couple of sheets of newspaper between the old and the new hive and by the time they eat through the newspaper  they know and accept each other rather than fighting and become one.






 It has now resulted in a big healthy hive and we have since added a new hive beside  it.


One day Rob came to check the hives and take frames to spin,


The bees had built a pile of honeycomb on the  top of the frames, so he passed me some to eat,



It was delicious.

He inspected the frames and took 2 full boxes away to spin.


Rob's hive numbers have grown and he is a busy man, so he has encouraged us to have a go on our own, so we bought a few pieces of equipment including a spinner and we harvested a few frames ourselves.







We were very impressed with our results, What lovely light clear honey those frames produced.

We did a quick trip to Newcastle to purchase, some new preserving jars, hive boxes, honey containers and we decided to buy a new suit for me that can be shared if we get visitors that want to help Brian or just have a look.I feel much more protected now.



We also decided to purchase a new nuc of bees and have a go completely on our own, to see if we could do it, so we brought it home and placed it on a nearby farm away from our other bees.We had placed an empty box there first ready for the swap.









The new hive settled in really well and went ahead in leaps and bounds.

My brother came to visit from Sydney and got to have a close look at the bees.

The Flow Hive took a fair while to get established, but eventually got to the point where we could take some honey from it.



The beauty of the Flow Hive is that the honey doesn't have to be spun from the frames in the traditional way but instead a 'key' is inserted to 'split' the frames and the honey just pours out through tubes. after extraction the frames are reset again with the key.


We did another small extraction on another hive.



This has been such an amazing season, the rain came and the flowers bloomed and the bees have multiplied over and over, our new box  now has 2 top boxes and along with the other hives were full of honey.

We had no choice but to harvest again in no time at all.





We were totally  gobsmacked at the sheer quantity of beautiful raw honey that we have obtained this season( well over 50 litres)  At this point we are not selling the honey but maybe next spring we may look at sorting out  where to sell as we have assured  Rob from the beginning  that we will not sell against him.

Rob is a  great help to us and has a vault of expertise and information that he shares with us for which we are eternally grateful.

What a learning curve this season has been, the bees are now slowing down and getting ready for the cooler months ahead, we will not harvest again until next spring all being well.

So, until we  catch up again soon a little further down the track,

take care and stay safe.

Cheers

Jane and Brian.

8 comments:

  1. It all sounds so fascinating....the flow hive certainly makes for lighter work. The whole swaming of bees is so interesting and scary at the same time. Kathy, Brisbane

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy,
      The fliw hive is definately easier for harvesting , the general looking after and care still had to be done.
      We have been amazed at the swarms, I though I woukd be scared of them but they wern't interested in us, they just wanted to be with the queen.
      Take csre
      Cheers
      Jane

      Delete
  2. they are a fascinating little creature & hard working; lovely lot of honey too! have thought about getting a flow hive for myself as i tend to eat a lot of honey, but am happy to support our local bee man; you & Rob could share it, you give him a few bottles & you take back just a small percentage for all he's done for you? just an idea so then you're not selling against him but rather sharing the bounty instead;
    great post
    thanx for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Hi Selina,
      They truly are amazing, the honey has been such a bonus.
      At the moment we have just been giving the honey to family and friends, but the suggestions of combining with Rob may happen in the future. We have discussed something slong those lines, Rib has even mentioned the pissability of him retiring and us stepping up into his shoes down the track....Time will
      tell !!
      Take care
      Cheers.
      Jane

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  3. Amazing!! Thank you for all of these pictures and history. So glad that the bees are surviving so well in the world. They are fascinating creatures.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth,
      They truly are , I have grown to admire them greatly.So glad we are able to be part of tgeir amazing world.
      Cheers
      Jane

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  4. Hi Jane.

    Your bee life sounds so much like ours. What an addictive hobby. We have only been doing it about 18months. Started off with two hives, now there are 9! They are not all on our block, we have scattered them in different locations around our area. We too harvested heaps of honey this year and still they are producing and we will probably take more very soon before leaving them alone for winter. We had a few of our hives swarm this year and have learned that we need to start with a fresh queen at the beginning of Spring, so we will try that this year. An older queen tends to swarm more.

    Bees are so much fun and so interesting, and the hardest workers I know!

    I loved reading your bee post!

    xTania

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  5. so good that you are posting again. you have been so busy and productive. what a lot you accomplish. You have a lot of patience to wait for your solar to be fixed but good things come out of bad, you have a new and improved solar system. hope you keep posting regularly. one thing i wondered did you have the mouse plague that happened in a lot of country areas. i really hate mice and i wouldn't be able to cope . glad all is well with you both and your family. Ann

    ReplyDelete