Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Its all in your planning and time management!!

Winter is very short.

As this season is now finished its time to be planning ahead.  The days of rushing around until late at night, queen rearing, harvesting honey, putting on supers and hive inspections are now only a distant memory but take no rest, winter is very short!!
I have learnt in the last couple of years that you must never take for granted the aparant lack of urgency in things because there is a list, well should I say a scroll, that unwinds around the workshop, of jobs to be done.
Here is a list of just a few for when I get back to France.
Cleaning old frames, scraping them and rewaxing. (over 1500 to do!)
Mini plus frames, clean scrape and rewax (1500 to do!)
cleaning queen excluders,
cleaning wooden feeders hive top feeders with scraper and blow torch.
cleaning nucs, mating nucs
stock take of what materials we have left to use.
Ordering materials.

The list goes on and on. If you don't make lists and decide what your going to do for this next year, you going to fall at the first hurdle ending up doing winter work in the summer. A complete nightmare.

Waxing in new foundation to our Mini-Plus frames in a huge job but it must be done while we have time. timely winter work pays off in the long term always! it takes us about 10 days to get through enough for the season, so its a big labour burner, but its essential to have frames ready for the spring growth.

So where do you start?

Be honest and realistic with yourself  and also never underestimate how long things take. The labour involved in many aspects of beekeeping is huge, but we do it because we love our job, occupation or hobby (whatever you call it) it is a labour of love, that with beekeeping you have to forget making money and just enjoy your bees. If at the end of that you have found yourself with some money that pays the bills, then the experience is real and sustainable.
There is a joke that goes something like this:

Q: How do you become a millionaire beekeeper
A: Start off as  billionaire😂.

The truth is, no one makes millions keeping bees but its an occupation and hugely rewarding thing to do everything yourself,  put in your heart and soul and end up with good bees in your hives, (not in the trees) and honey in the barrel to sustain you throughout the long winter.  You are certainly a farmer and the rewards are enormous.
I have to say I've found being a professional beekeeper strangely more rewarding than I felt as an amateur beekeeper. Probably because when you become a professional your putting most of your eggs in one basket but at the same time your completely in control of what you do and when you do it! when you get the rewards its so uplifting!!
Having that second job to rely on when things potentially may get tough is purely psychological support. In reality, once you get 200 hives, there is really no reason that with hard work you won't make enough on selling Nucs, queens and honey. If you don't, then really,  your doing something wrong.

In my mind, two jobs actually becomes a thorn in your side.

Your trying desperately to keep up with your swarm controls in mid spring but your other job means your not free on the two good days of that week in  that a typical early May period when you should have been in your apiaries.! You turn up at your apiary 5 days later than you scheduled to be (because of one thing and another) and you find 40% of your colonies have swarmed or are about too. Your then immediately in to cutting out queen cells, trying to stop the others from swarming,  as well as  trying to get the swarmed colony "queen right" as soon as possible. Basically you have  lost valuable time, money and precious  resources that if managed correctly, would have been much more use to you!

Swarms are completely normal  but in most cases completely avoidable.

Once you've been down  the road of post swarm management,  you soon realise that the second job has to go, or you need to change it in a way that permits you to have the time you need!  This is where reality bites.
I experienced this problem this year. May is a busy month. If you survive it with the majority of your bees in your hives and not hanging in the trees you've done well!
To watch your carefully overwintered stock just fly away is heartbreaking and downright demoralising.

There then comes the labour decisions!!
How much time should you spend on managing one colony. How much time do you want to spend on each Apiary.
I learnt this and learnt that its a variable  but there is obviously patterns and seasons that give us leaders in to what we should expect during hive inspections.

Swarm Catching

How long should you spend catching a swarm in your apiary😤 believe it or not, this sound like a simple question. I used to always catch swarms  but in May and June you just don't have time.
Firstly, those genetics are the ones you don't want. The propensity to swarm is a very undesirable trait to most beekeepers. I certainly don't want swarmy bees and by collecting that swarm and allowing that queen to survive and produce drones for next year! that's one reason,. The second reason is in reality collecting a swarm can take a long time, 30. minutes lost when you could have checked another 5 hives  is a complete waste of time.
If the swarm is low enough , ok, have a box on the truck, shake it in and move on. Reality bites again.
I learnt the hard way and lost lots of time in Apiaries, thanks to my colleague and mentor, i have changed my ways! but it's s a dilemma.

The dilemma of catching swarms in your apiary.

Time management is crucial to a successful operation. Plan your time, Plan your week. Stick to the schedule wherever possible.  It will pay you dividends on the future.

Right now I  am back out in sunny Hawaii for nearly a month, I am enjoying some fantastic scenery, Beekeeping with Alicia and helping out with the chores on her busy Apiary.  Were cleaning up some hives and frames, making up all boxes so there ready for use with new frames etc.
I never dreamt in my life I would ever be fortunate enough to visit Hawaii

The stunning morning view of Mauna Kea in the background is always breathtaking!

             Look what bees did for me!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The excuse for my absence -Bees and Life.

 Bees and life!

Photoshoot by Chris Campbell of Hiveshare

Well I am back blogging. I am determined to share more what I have learned in my beekeeping.  According to my last post, it was March last year! where has time gone. I can tell you its just been awesome!

Those who have been following my YouTube channel (all about bees in Brittany.).  I can say how much I am enjoying sharing my experiences with bees, its just amazing to be able to share what I do. The comments and feed back are wonderful and I thank you all!

So here we are,  were now early December, the first frost on the ground this morning and boy was it a cold one. Seeing and hearing all the social media from around the world, makes me feel kind of humbled as to our privelidged position in the climate zones. Were never really too hot, never really too cold. were lucky here in Corseul Brittany, La belle France!

What I would like do over the next few weeks is write about my experiences over the last two years and bring you up to the date with where I am now. I have treated myself to a gorgeous MacBook Pro which is the beautiful. Perfect for when your travelling as well as enabling me to write at home. As my children have grown up, my desktop Mac has bee hijacked and filled up with each of my children various projects.

I am going to be upgrading this blog site too. Time for some better pictures and a fresh look, so bear with me as this all takes place.

Big changes

A huge amount has happened to me over the last two years. 
I feel I have fallen on my feet,  Fallen in love,  Tasted success with beekeeping and learnt a whole lot about life! 
My children are also finally growing up, which means I don't have to be home when they are. I am getting a life again! ( yes a life so I can work harder lol)
Finding a formula that works for you but also pushing yourself is a difficult balance. Ive always had at least two jobs and last year I was finally able to reduce my gardening activities to just one client. This is always a difficult thing for anyone to do if your depending on both jobs for the source of income, but I knew that because of my successes it was now time that I relied less one my old job and finally was able to take that step and make that leap.
The other issue is its so physically difficult to juggle two jobs in the spring. Clients want grass cut on a regular basis, bees like to swarm on a regular basis in spring,  What do you do? 
I hate not being able to do the  things I say I will do.. but my bees had to come first if they didn't , I would never be able to get ahead! 
I needed 200 + colonies for production, as well as brood factories and Finishers so I can make nucs with my own queens that I raise form my resources. This I have achieved  and at this moment I am going in to winter with a various assortment of colonies, nucs and mini nucs to give me financial support in to next spring and plenty of bees and queens for next year.

Next year is going to be really interesting. I have given notice to my one existing gardening job, my last month of work will be March, from then on its just bees that will give me my income. I have nucs to sell this spring ( I hope) and some honey to give me some turnover until then until hopefully we have another good spring harvest. 
The circle of beekeeping is a fascinating one, each year its the same but each year is completely unique. 
Being able to understand each years uniqueness is the key to good timely management. The is what I am only Just learning and what a learning curve it is.

Here I am talking about the spring harvest this year. I was amazing to have 6 barrels of honey from one flow  but I suppose I can say I did earn it. I worked really hard and the results are there. 
As I say in the video, if there isn't honey in the barrel, you might just as well go back to your old job! because its that which pays the bills.

Speak soon and think positive! you can achieve whatever you want to manifest! I dreamt of one day seeing this, well here  I am, honey is in the barrel!!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Winter marches on!

Spring prep well under way.

Well as usual its a fair while since i posted. Winter has been very long, wet and damp and only the last week its been really cold. I cant remember a winter when we've had so much continuous rain, wind and just damp., either drizzle or fog and just downright miserable. Sunshine has been just about unheard of!

However the last 10 days have been considerably different. Wall to wall sunshine but the wind flow from the East has taken over and temperatures last were below freezing for most of the week. A pleasant change but it was going out of the frying pan, in to the fire. If you worked outside, it was almost unworkable. Bitter winds from the east really made things difficult.

Ive just completed another video, reflecting the very positive feedback from the video i did called the cell builder explained. This one has the same title but its questions and answers to the comments on my you tube video.

I wa also very privileged and humbled to be asked by the Jersey beekeepers Association to come and talk about my queen rearing methods.
It was an extremely cold and windy night where i presented to about 40 beekeepers from the JBKA. they were a fantastic bunch, keen to find out how they could raise good queens.

They did a film about my presentation. The sound quality is a little poor but you will get the idea. It was a bit nerve wracking at the beginning because this was my first presentation to a group of people, fortunately they were very forgiving! 

I think they were happy with the presentation. I received some good feedback and some good questions. Also some nice gifts, which i was pretty chuffed with.
 I drink a lot of tea and coffee,  so perfect  gift and a great experience for me to have to present. keeps you on your toes and furthers your development.

Winter prep coming along well, but as usual ts always difficult to find time to fit everything in. the next 100 hives are all but finished painting. However being away for a week and the cold weather hasn't helped. I will soon be assembling the hives together, putting on handles, that bases, frame covers etc. Lots and lots to do.

They get to cure and dry out well before the bees go in around mid to late April.

So next thing will hopefully be a first very brief inspection for feed levels etc in mid march if the weather permits. This is critical to hopefully detect and disease that went unnoticed before the winter, If there was some disease, i want to find it before the bees really start to fly, so they dont rob out a diseased colony and potentially spread any nasties. I am confident i am clean, but checking all as soon as you can is a sure way to prevent spread if there was anything sinister going on.

Ive been feeding candy to a few of my colonies and i am using a thick insulated EKE that means i can keep the same roof top on the bees but also keep an easy eye on whats happening with the candy levels. This also means i can replace the candy with a circular rapid feeder when the bees start to fly regularly in about 3 weeks and i switch to liquid feed.


I am currently doing another last video before  the pressures of the season start. It will be a run down of my production cycle and how it  fits in with the main nectar groups. 

Wishing you all "alive" hives when you get to do your first inspections.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

When you think its the end of the season!!

Just when you thought its the end of the season!!

Beekeeping never ever really finishes, its a transition from one phase to the next as each season progresses.

Just when you think things are starting to get less busy your reminded that these are animals and they need care and careful management right up until they really are not flying.
I started treating all my bees with vaporised Oxalic Acid a little later this year than planned, but also discovered  that the growth of my Apiary numbers and individual colonies add further dimensions to their subsequent management. 
To be honest Vaporised Oxyalic Acid (VOA) is still my choice weapon against Varrao Mites but the logistics of treating some now 160 production colonies and some 120 Nuc for next years  sales and replacements wherever needed are something else i failed to estimate the work in time and logistics.

However i did make a good time saving by investing in a better and very efficient Vaporiser called a "Sublimox"

To be brief, this machine relies on dropping a measured amount of  Oxyalic Acid crystals on to an already very hot vaporiser plate or dish. The existing machine i used ( A Varrox) and still have, relies on you starting from cold, putting it in to position, then turning it on, waiting for it to heat up, then removing after about 3 minutes, cooling and repeating the process for the next colony.

You will see from the video below just how quick the new machine is. It dosent cool down between each treatment and also it extremely quick. time saving devices is something i am looking to use! i must be as  efficient in my overall management.

Mite management is probably the most important issue i have to deal with during the beekeeping year. I am lucky in the fact that many beekeepers around me all treat regularly in different ways and i dont have mites jumping ship from the dead or dying colonies from non treating beekeepers.
I respect their decision not to treat however i dont welcome extra mites. Its a big issue among the beekeeping community and sparks regular heated debate.

With the final treatments (of 3 x treatments over 15 days) finished for this year. I am now having a count up. Moving nucs to new apiaries for next year and doing final autumn prep checks before it really is time to start the winter beekeeping duties.

Any colonies that are not up to sufficient weight are noted and i will give the candy before the end off January. There is not many but never the less they will need the extra feed.

Apiaries  are all in line for a good cutting back and clearance where necessary  but the volume of work ahead is enormous.

Theres is lots of new hives to paint up and assemble, as well as still lots of feeders and queen excluders to clean up! After that there is lots of spring prep. on Honey supers etc etc etc. the list is enormous. I am going to be very busy. Like all things you get out of beekeeping only what you put in. Organisation is key!!

 One of my apiaries full of overwintering nucleus colonies, all in polystyrene boxes this year.

Asian hornet pictures, a sequence of three pics, just to highlight the issue of summer detection. Very difficult indeed, a classic example.

 Taken in my local Village. this nest although dormant now will be there for all to see over the winter! we cant complain here though, all communes have grouped together to form the "Dinan Aglomation" and there was some 5,000 traps put out over the spring. we hardly had any presence of asian hornets this year. A terrific result! spring trapping does work.

The close up of the nest. not a huge one, but queens almost certainly would have dispersed to found next years colonies.

Winter planning commences! A bientôt .

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A very big Hello to you all!!
Hi all, posting on my mobile mobile,  whilst away in the U.K. for a few days so excuse typing errors!!
 A little time to reflect and mentally catch up on things!!(and rest)

So we’re end of October and I have not posted since March , well no excuses! Other than it’s been pretty crazy!

In Summary is perhaps easier:

So, didn’t sell any Nucs this spring(for those of you who don't now Nucs are Nucleus Colonies usually made the previous summer, then overwintered on 5 to 6 frames for use the following soring summer.)
All (about 80) were used up in various ways.
To requeen colonies lost over winter, ( about 8% losses ) and obviously the rest went in to new hives to expand my stock, which has always been my main aim this year.
With out good stocks you can’t get honey ! You can’t make splits  and so on, you have to
Investvand sacrifice in order to get up your numbers. You can’t make bees, honey and colonies from fresh air !!

Spring was good but not a good spring for honey. Cold nights in April meant a slow start to the nectar flow. In addition To this, nectar in hives more than 4 weeks started to crystallise even earlier due to cold nights and lack of bees to heat thé whole box. Classic signs of this were the edges of the frames crystallising first ! Although crystallisation is pretty common in spring, cold nights accelerated this problem!

So the solution was early selected harvesting and extraction before any
more crystalised. Crystallised honey in’the supers” is still better than having your Bees hanging  from “the trees” due to no room in the colony, however it’s a lot of work!
As well as cold night, spring was also pretty dry and heavy spring showers  didn’t  materialise until nearly the end of the spring flow, which only complicated issues, in the fact that more very wet nectar arrved n the supers at a time when we were nearly ready to harvest, but half of many super frames were dripping with uncured nectar. If that got in to the rest of the honey , then this may have just have pushed up the moisture contents to above 17 percent and initiated rapid fermentation, so we had to
Be really careful!!

However I did have a spring harvest, not great but some valuable income!

Spring Splits
So after the honey was harvested  I made as many spring splits as I could. It was mid May by this time and with finally better night time temperatures I was able to make up a load of early queens.
Cell building is an Interesting process.
The trick of it all is timing and strong cell builders! Strong Cdll builders means strong queens, in large cells, fed to the max during their growth period!! I am
Not a specialist breeder, but anyone can
Make some good queen cells, as
Long as you have the good starting materials!
Here’s the link to my cell builder video.

Early mating was good this year! Plenty of nice drones around. So good results were achieved! In total I produced about 60 nucs. They went out in End of June to new apiary sites and I also sold 10 to generate some much needed turn over.

The Next Stage: Prep for the Summer Flow:

This consists mainly of checking each stock 2 or 3 times over the next 3 to 5 weeks before the start of the chestnut and bramble. Emergency re queening of colonies that either swarmed already and hadn't re queened on their own and replacing the odd few poorly performing queens. 

Feeding most colonies was really a necessity. When we make spring splits you potentially weaken a colony. Subsequently you need to help that colony as usually we may have taken about a quarter or its bees and two of its brood frames. So for us here in Brittany after the second week of May, its vital that we get that colony up and running in time for the summer flow only a few weeks away.

After the spring flow subsides, the swarming stops too ( for a while). Supers are put back on colonies immediately after harvesting if they haven't been used for splits. Or if their still really strong.  Its very important you manage your colony populations well. Too much space too early, can result in slow build up due to cold in the hive. Too little space and your bees are hanging from the trees before you know it, then its also likely you will loose most of your summer crop too.
Heres a little video of how I do my summer splits. In the summer splits, I replace the 3 frames removed, with 2 partitions and one foundation. this is our overwintering configuration, 7 frames n the brood nest and one for ivy flow expansion of honey (if it materialises) and also early spring foundation, before the bees
Spring splits is usually two frames from the brood nest replaced with two frames of foundation.

Obviously for all these splits you need queens.  Managing the production of Nucs twice a year, with two honey crops and post harvest Mite Treatments is a complete Juggling act! but I got there in the end. It was a big learning curve for me this year.

The summer Flow

Well it wasn't good this year but and its a big But....  still had a honey crop and I still made lots of Nucs. It was Incredibly hard work trying to Juggle me existing job to maintain income for my family as well as give my bees the maximum time needed to look after the now 160 hives and ever growing nucs to overwinter.
The Flow came and went  In  about 10 days, usually it lasts a month. We had sinking hot weather and no existing ground water . Plenty of pollen so colonies had made lots of young bees, so summer splits were good with plenty of brood and bees to use! another year for the record books.

Admitting your mistakes and learning from them is a very Big part of beekeeping. I like many have made serious mistakes and this year. I learnt that you must feed more in the summer dearth. Some of my spring nucs were so light from a  late summer of no nectar at all. I did loose two colonies. School boy error and no excuses.  If your colonies are strong and well fed. or at least to a point where they haven't lower numbers because of lack of food. Then their always ready to make use of a flow, whenever it materialises No matter how big or small it is!!

So going in to this winter, I purchased another 100 hives and all the equipment to put them together, but next spring I will sell 60 of the 120 nucs I have produced late summer (subject to them overwintering  well). This will create much needed income to fund more syrop I will need for next year.

Ivy flow was excellent in the end the first two weeks of October we had good temperatures and the ivy dripped nectar. Hives stinking of the stuff Thank goodness!!  Any colonies that hadn't made good weight usually means their were not queen right at the critical time. ts candy for them now, but the vast majority did well. heavy hives going in to the winter, free of charge. a real Bonus that we didn't have last year!!

Ive included a few photos below . ( will upload these shortly)

Most are also on Instagram as "Plenty_Of_Honey"

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Winter Beekeeping, Summer video.

So things are progressing well.
The new 100 hives are being painted up and we've nearly finished making the roofs. Just tons of work but all completely necessary
I had a brief pause to  reflect on last years queen rearing and have put together a little video to summarise the queen rearing process. A nice reminder of how lovely and enjoyable it is to be able to raise your own queens, successfully.

Treatment with Vaporised Oxalic Acid this week, tin all hives! Much easier to control when you have little or no brood for mites to live under.

Manufacturing new roofs. 

Then the 2 coats of paint!!

 Painting, does it ever end!

 New roofs after the paint are covered with lightweight metal sheets`

Hive roofs all ready!

 Hive assemble line, of sorts!

 There assembled hives, going in storage for a couple of months before they will be needed. Storage space is of a premium.

A little feeding of Candy or balkers fondant, put on top of a lightening hive is a good insurance against starvation. In Nucleus colonies, the queens are young and strong, with population sometimes large. this time of year is the most critical, when bees start brood rearing, against their stores. Sometimes their storers just run out and the colony collapses. Fondant will usually be the best insurance as its too cold for a liquid feed!

a poly eke  candy placed over the hole cut in to the plastic.

Nearly finished wth hive preparation, then were moving on to some Mini-Plus frame production.
Spring is nearly around the corner!! we've had a good cold spell and temperatures down to Minus 7, so the bees are good and in good shape!!  Pollen starting to come in! a very good sign!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

More time after a very exciting summer!

Hello all.
Well, where did the summer go? Its been a tremendous year for my beekeeping. I had two honey crops, made lots of nucleus colonies, opened up 3 new apiaries and have another 100 hives arriving very shortly. I am overwintering 70 Production colonies and have over 80 colonies in Nucs and also 20 colonies that are small mating nucs, which are basically queens with support staff, to be used in early spring to make up some more early nucs.

I had a great trip away in the summer  to a beekeeping family based on Exmoor in Somerset,  which was fantastic, then a trip up to stay for a a couple of days in a beekeeping business based around the Arden Forest in the midland.
All were excellent and I learnt a huge amount from very knowledgeable people. I cant thank them enough for their hospitality and will write up my visit in a separate post. Far too much to gloss over, lots to share.

The year started with a difficult spring, where i learnt an awful lot about the problems with early starvation of overwintering colonies. I lost five in early April. The big mistake I made was going by the weight of the nuc box ( small overwintering colonie), which sadly the wood had become wet  and absorbed moisture, over the extremely wet, damp and mide that last winter was.
Basically some good colonies starved because I had not assessed their stores correctly, they were on empty combs with no foo. If i had quickly jabbed in my hive tool and it came up clean, i would have seen it time to feed.  This is how you learn quickly. After chatting to many experienced beekeepers about this problem , they all have experienced this at some time or another. however i still had enough colonies to fill most of my hives and cover any additional winter losses from existing colonies.

50 Roofs, made from pine  painted up and rain proofed with Aluminium sheet. 

 Putting together hives bought in Kit form

Some of the finished Hives, ready to go out.

This spring I opened up 3 new apiaries and quickly transfered overwintered nucs to the 50 new hives that i had bought in Kit form from a beekeeping supplier. My collegue helped me assemble them over the latter months. He's got plenty of experience in making roofs!!

So once all the equipment was in place the bees were transferred in early spring.  The weather wasn't brilliant, but thankfully we had a good 2 week window where lots of bees grew well, expanded in to their new homes  (from 5 frames to 10) I was able to take a  honey crop from my existing colonies and also  a handful of my new ones that had grown at an exceptional rate.

All colonies at the end of the nectar flow 9 (mid may) were used to make an additional nuc from, aka another colonie. This was great and it gave me a few more colonies to fill any last remaining hives.

I made them up strong with plenty of bees because the colonies were very populous. I gave them virgin queens, so they were mated very quickly.
We had to feed a little after taking spring honey and creating a new colonie, but in spring in Bretagne, there is always pollen so bees still grew even if the nectar had subsided before the start of the summer flow. Feed is necessary if you take  from your bees, you have to give something back.

 Cell Building
This year i had great success with raising good quality queens with my 3 cell builders. I raised some ok queens at the beginning of the year but as the year went on, the size of queens got bigger as well as better mating  achieved with some good weather in July and August. I found the size of queens was directly in proportyion to the quality and amount of pollen and resources given to queen less colonies. you have two give them lots of pollen and stores during the first 5 days in the cell builder, thats the key, all in the Jelly!!

Grafting 12 to 24 hr old larvae  in to Nicot cell cups, before placing in to my hopelessly  queenless cell builder.

I picked up a small incubator in July, whilst on my trip in the uk, from Banbury incubators. its a little egg incubator, but works perfectly for queen bees. the results were excellent. It frees up your cell builder earlier, allows queens to hatch before introducing to a colonie is the form of a cell, so less risk of one not hatching, as you know its hatched and you can be sure all virgin queens introduced in to queen less colonies are strong and healthy looking.

Queens incubated for 6 days after being capped over on day 5 in the cell builder.

Once the queens hatch out I feed them a little royal jelly mixed with honey and introduce them to a queen less colonie within 12 jours of emergence. Acceptance is about 95% so this is a great advancement for me.
There really isn't a problem of acceptance of the queen providing your nucleus or mating nuc is in the right state to accept a queen theres more likely hood of something going wrong during mating than anything else.

Mini-Plus Mating Nucs made up and kept inside for 24 hrs, before giving a queen. this helps consolidate and calm down the colonie after breaking down stronger colonies in to smaller mating boxes, to form small colonies for mating during the summer season.

The results of a good , well mated queen and a strong colonie is lots of lovely new larvae, raised with plenty of royal jelly. An excellent site!!!!

This is the main mating yard we use. we surround this small valley with our best stocks and augment the drone population early may by adding extra drone foundation to the brood nest. Drones take typically 40 days from egg to being able and ready to mate so, you have to be well organised and prepared. The more drones, the better the mating and shorter time it will take a queen to be viable.  The weather any time of the short 4 to 5 month season so you need to be as proactive and give the virgin queens the best possible chances of mating in a short window if the weather is bad, or as we say, not ideal!!

Sometimes we do use unhatched cells in mating nucs, here you can clearly see a successful hatching. The wax cap chewed off perfectly, but a tiny tag left that often holds it to the old cell shell.

Emerged, mated and marked queen.

Making up Nucs can be really easy if you do it in conjunction with a bee escape board. Pictured above)  at harvest time, a bee escape is put underneath the supers, , a couple of days later, the supers and honey are removed as all bees are below the escape board. if you lift it up within a few days its a mass of bees,  you simply knock these off in to a nuc, together with a couple of frames from the brood nest containing some brood and instantly you have a small queenless nuc.
We made lots more colonies in late summer, late July and i was late in doing this, as  was away until nearly the end of July, but we were very fortunate with the weather this year it went really hot and settles during the last two weeks of July and Virtually all of August. Mating was excellent and generally within a week after the first 4 days of emergence, so they had a nice period of time to get laying and build up a strong colonie before the season came to a close.

The summer honey harvest was poor and it was declared a bad year my most beekeepers in france and indeed our harvest was poor, however I covered my costs.

 Of course a summer wouldn't be a summer without the Asian hornet. here you can see a typical nest in a fruit tree. this one was destroyed in time, before queens emerged.

I will do some write ups of my trip to the UK and about more specific things over the coming months, but for now, keep well and enjoy your winter preparation. Its going to be a very quick winter for me!!