A wing and a prayer.

“I’ll pray that you’ll have loads of bees.” My venerable elderly mother said.

“Ach no mum, I’d prefer if you’d pray that I’ll have loads of honey.”

“No, no.” She insisted. “Loads of bees, that’s what you want.” This was her way of saving the bees. Who am I to argue, so I stopped.

“Thanks Mum.”

She must be laughing now. I ran out of equipment! The year started off well, not one hive lost over winter and swarm after swarm caught. To prevent my own from doing the same I split the largest hives, then I got rid of the queen excluder in all of the hives to give the queen plenty of space and checkered boarded. Checkerboarding seemed to work so I’m going to adopt that from now on.  

How to Checkerboard a hive.

May and June were mighty months, sunshine and flowers. By mid-June the bees had moved into the top boxes and I added another super of foundation to the hives. Then I ran out of equipment. Not a bit of foundation and not a spare box to be found in the recesses of my shed, not even an old dilapidated wooden one.

I had begged some foundation from a beekeeping friend to put in my last super and waited painfully for my order of foundation to arrive. Would it get here in time for the July flow? My aider and abetter made a few new wooden supers out of pity as  my own woodworking skill leave a lot to be desired as you can see in my blog post Oh no, I’m a Scavenger . I had frames and thankfully the foundation arrived before the end of June. On they went, supers and fresh foundation and off I went on a short holiday, satisfied that the hives had enough to keep them going until I got back.

There is a pishóg (pronounced pish-ooog. Superstition is a rough translation) that if the weather broke around the summer solstice then that would be ‘it’ for the summer.

Just before mid-summer’s day the weather broke.

It rained.

And rained.

And rained.

For days, and then on and off for weeks.

Atlantic low pressure.

July was a wash out. Flow? What flow? There were dry spells in between the showers, I hoped that would be enough for the bees to forage.  

I inspected the bees on a rare dry day at the end of July – there was no further drawn-out combs. The bees had eating into the surplus they had brought in during May and early June. Without the queen excluder the bees didn’t swarm but the queen in every hive had moved up to lay her eggs in the top super and didn’t go down under the honey supers like she is supposed to do according to the books and YouTube videos, because of course none of the honey supers were full of honey.

Roll on August. I took off honey from a couple of apiaries earlier than normal, not one super was full and many boxes and frames were empty.  I did get honey and I should be grateful for that. I am leaving the rest of the hives for another few weeks. Maybe things will pick up.  

It could be worse, the south of Europe was tortured with an exceptionally hot July, and that heat had dragged the low-pressure swirls and rain over us. If I had a choice of 40o C or rain. I think I prefer rain.

At least I’ve loads of bees.   

Thank you Mum. Thank you God.


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