Diary of a Beekeeping Walrus

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Apple Watch Screen
Apple Watch Screen

Am I Dying?

For the last seven months, perhaps coincidentally since my Dad died, I have been having strange aches and pains in my chest and back. I’m okay with pain, mostly, but when I don’t understand the cause of that pain, my little walrus brain starts over analysing. I have generally always been healthy, so this recent unexplained phenomenon is puzzling. Two years ago I paid a private hospital to give me a full heart check-up, including an ECG while huffing and puffing on a treadmill, and all sorts of scans and tests. The result was that my heart was in good shape. My Apple Watch has an ECG recorder app within. It tells me that the old ticker is beating in regular sinus rhythm. I sometimes do those HIIT exercises which raises my pulse to around 145bpm with no ill effects whatsoever. The signs all point to my heart being healthy and not the source of my weird pains.

Walrus Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Walrus Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Recently I have been having physiotherapy at G4 in Didsbury, which is a fantastic resource. It turns out that my spine is stiff in certain areas and that this can refer pain to the chest. I have been doing my contortions and stretches according to my physio’s advice, and it seems to be helping. I also bought a new chair, desk and computer keyboard to see if they help. The real problem is that I spend hours sat at my desk typing on a keyboard and walruses are not built for that. The new desk is one of those sit-stand types which goes up and down so that I can work standing up some of the time, which is apparently a good thing.

Despite the excellent progress made I still want to arrange for a CT scan of my upper body to rule out anything untoward. Yes, I know, I’m a whinging pom, a wet lettuce, a hypochondriac and a bit of a girl’s blouse. At least I own it. I even cry during episodes of American Idol. There is no hope.

April Swarms

Something odd is afoot weather-wise, as evidenced by reports of bees swarming already and many colonies being more advanced than usual. My bees all have plenty of space, which helps, as my typical overwintering configuration is double brood boxes. In the Spring the bees are generally in the top box, and the bottom box is empty. A quick reversal of boxes puts them off swarming for a while. However, last week I did find one large colony that was making queen cells. This was only one out of the fourteen colonies that survived Winter. I took their queen away in a nucleus hive to my other apiary and knocked down the cells. I may re-introduce the old queen later or let them make a new one.

There is a stack of nucleus hives in my garden with frames of foundation in them. Until very recently honeybees were checking them out in increasing numbers as the days passed. These were scout bees looking for a new home for a swarm that was to issue from a nearby beekeepers hive. Sadly they suddenly stopped coming a couple of days ago so either the beekeeper took action in time, or they decided to swarm elsewhere. Shame. I was looking forward to it. Swarms are much more fun when they are somebody else’s bees.

Some empty nucs
Some empty nucs

Raising Queens

I made up a cell builder colony which will be ready to take grafts of larvae from my favourite queen in about four days. I hope I haven’t started too early. It seems that this April is behaving like May, and if that continues I’ll be okay. If we get a month of cold and wet weather, then my newly made virgin queens will not be able to mate. I have two favourite queens; one has a yellow dot on her thorax indicating that she is in her third season, and the other is from last year. The younger of the two is the mother of most of the queens in my hives. I want to breed from the yellow dot queen this time before she swarms or gets superceded.

I have taken delivery today of an incubator so I’m gearing up the queen rearing side of things. This year I will be selling some locally, all being well. When it all goes to plan I love raising queens; it’s magical. Alas, things don’t always go to plan, especially when you are a fumble fingered walrus.

Interviews with Beekeepers

My book is coming along nicely. The first draft will be ready within a couple of weeks. After that, it gets messed about with by various talented people who turn it into something readable and grammatically correct. I have met some inspirational beekeepers on my travels in the last two years and made some friends too. Whether or not anybody wants to buy it, the project has already been a success. I am a better and more confident beekeeper as a direct result of talking to and working with some of the best in the business. It would be a shame not to share that knowledge with the rest of the beekeeping world, wouldn’t it?

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