The honey flow seems to have slowed down for a while, and my bees are less desperate to swarm. Last week I discovered that three of my hives swarmed even though I had checked them, which goes to show how easy it is to miss the odd queen cell. The majority of my colonies used the nectar flow and the extra boxes I provided to make honey rather than queen cells. I have several hundred pounds of honey out there and need to bring it home for extraction. This is excellent news because last years supplies have just about run out.
A few days ago I popped over to Bollington in Cheshire to meet Paul Beardmore of Happy Valley Honey to pick up some new frames for my honey boxes. He’s a nice guy, and I enjoyed having a good chat with him about bee stuff. We both agree that Langstroth hives are much easier to work with than British Nationals. Paul is running a business, however, so he has to keep some National hives to sell nucs. Most Brits use the National hive size and want to buy their bees on National frames. In England, people are happy to pay over £200 for a five frame nucleus colony of bees, so it seems silly to ignore this market. Paul also takes some bees down to Kent to pollinate fruit trees in the Spring as well as selling nucs and honey.
My wife Elaine has been going through the first draft of my book, Interviews with Beekeepers. After reading the Randy Oliver chapter, she ran downstairs, burst into my study, and proclaimed, “we’re going to sell nucs!” She learned that in America, nucs cost $160 each, and became quite excited when I told her that over here they often go for £220 (about $280). I explained that it would be difficult for me because I use Langstroth hives, and nuc customers want bees on National frames. Her response was “get some National nucs then!” So, I’m going to look into finding another apiary and running National nucleus colonies that I can maybe sell next year. Mrs Walrus has spoken.
To sell nucs, you need queens. To keep bees, you need queens. This is why I have today grafted 20 tiny larvae into plastic cell cups and placed them into a colony full of nurse bees with no queen. The queen is below decks, under a cloake board which I’m trying out. Hopefully, I will get lots of lovely queens. I aim to keep the cell builder going throughout the Summer by continually replenishing it with emerging brood from other colonies. I might even sell the odd queen this year, but it’s more important that I have them for my nucs. I think I am getting better at grafting larvae but will have to wait to see what the bees think. If they accept them and make queens, then I did a good job.
Anyway, it’s not all about bees in the Donohoe household, you know. There was the final episode of Game of Thrones to navigate, without reading any spoilers on social media. I’m satisfied that they wrapped it all up nicely. In many ways, the final episode rescued the season which had been well below par in my opinion.
Also, I am looking forward to the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in less than two weeks. Come on England! I have never watched women’s football but as the BBC has decided to televise the whole thing I will certainly give it a go.
It is time for me to drink yet another glass of water. I have been trying to lose a few pounds now that the weather is warming up and I don’t need the insulation. It turns out that I have to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water every day as part of my new healthy lifestyle. I drink a lot of tea too, because tea is amazing, so as you can imagine I am paying frequent visits to the loo, or hedge, depending on where I am.
As Theresa May prepares to leave 10 Downing Street, and the UK political system is exposed as a farce, I shall dream of a time when our leaders care more for their people than their party. A time when the outdated voting system is replaced by proportional representation. A time when Walruses rule the earth! Too much?!