"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly" Robert F Kenedy.
We're already preparing for next year in a year that I haven't written a post since march!! Shall I give the usual bloggers excuses? "oh, I was so busy," well ain't that the truth.
My colleague who's my mentor and also my close friend said " say goodbye to your family in Mid March and you may get to see them again in September! how right he is!
I love my job more than ever and it's grown so much this year, grown in so many ways. Personally, I feel I've overcome so many hurdles mental and physical.
The Beekeeping year started off pretty badly for me. Reality came crashing in, after my amazing trip to Hawaii over Christmas and the new year, coming back to the realisation of huge winter losses.
How could this have happened?? The losses were indeed huge! around 40 to 45%, totally mind-blowing how someone could lose so much stock so quickly.
So why and how did that happen? in the video I give my reasons why I think this happened.
The previous spring of 2019 was amazing, Mimosa and Gorse pollen pouring into the hives in the third week of February will surely now be my "be aware" marker for future years. We had a great spring crop last spring (2019) and it was this that was the start of my winter losses to come.
As I say in my latest video, "winter losses are mostly lost in late autumn before." This was the case for last year. Lots of strong spring swarming and poor mating afterwards. Many hives were a long time getting mated or were poorly mated. Add to this scenario my unexpected workload coupled with the inexperience to know I should have concentrated more on getting those colonies queenright quicker.
However, the spring quickly turned in to the summer and I did have a good summer honey crop.
I am grateful for the harvest I had but this would be the lesson learned, never sit back just because the honey is in the barrel there was a huge amount of work to be done. All colonies to inspect, treat against Varroa, asses and feed, get them winterised fully insulated and winterised.
This is also where I fell down. My Varroa treatments were in on time but the Varroa were not completely
treated and some colonies still had large populations of those bloodsucking pests!
The weather really does matter in the autumn
The weather then turned right at the end of a long summer dearth with no appreciable rain from 18 degrees to around 10 degrees max and rain, lots of rain.
Bees need pollen to make winter bees, lots of pollen and the usual autumn Ivy in most years suffices admirably, but not in the autumn of 2019, the rain kept the bees in most of the autumn while I was unaware, sunning myself on the first of my two trips out to Hawaii!
So to summarize, lots of the previous swarming, many colonies not looked after properly, poor or little nutrition coming in through the door (going unnoticed) winter bees being raised too late with too higher varroa infection rate: a veritable recipe for disaster.
I have no regrets, it was what it was! Entering the spring was hard. Both my colleague and I had lots of losses, was there anything we could say we did recoup!
Beeswax is at a premium every year and we had lots of frames to melt down. Remember these are brood frames, that had no brood diseases,(they died of varroa and no bees) we could melt as many down as we wanted!
We still pay a little for the pressing but to have your own wax, mostly from your own cappings and melted down frames
Here is the wax, they did a beautiful and quality job!
Here I am at the start of the rewaxing work, I was able to bring a load of frames home to work in the relative quiet of the veranda, beavering away, getting things prepared for the forthcoming season