Bees

2015 was surprisingly good for our bees, with a warm spring giving them the chance to establish strong colonies before the main honeyflow.  We've honey for sale again this year and feedback is that it's a particularly good flavour.

2014 got off to a cracking start with plants, flowers, birds and the bees all flourishing early.  Early autumn is the time for collecting the honey before settling the bees for the winter.  Our new season honey will be available shortly!

2013 - wow, what a difference!  Despite a late start to the season the bees took advantage of the burberris and other flowers in May.  How odd it was to have the elders just coming into flower in July when they are normally done and dusted even in Scotland!  The early hot spell and generally reasonable weather were great for the bees - plenty of plants in succession, and wow, what a blackberry crop!  We now have honey for sale for the first time in a few years. 
 
2012 was a dreadful year for the bees.  Whilst we were all sitting indoors moaning about the never ending rain, the bees were also indoors.  Honey bees cannot fly in the rain and when they could get out and about, the temperature was so low that they couldn't get the nectar from the flowers.  The lack of apples and plums on many trees was due to the flowers being battered by the rain and losing their petals so the bees could not find them.  Our more experienced beekeeping friends say that honey production was down 80% in 2012 - not good news for honey lovers or the crops bees pollinate.  We have never had to feed established colonies of bees in the summer before, but in 2012 we were supplementing their natural foraging with sugar syrup to prevent them from starving.  Not a drop of honey harvested in 2012.

Beekeeping is an engrossing and satisfying bobby.  Although we have kept bees since 2004, we are still learning!

 

Bees have a very organised way of life with each bee having a set task each day, and beekeepers are meant to be able to read the colony and know when it is planning to swarm, when it needs more space or food, and when the honey is ready to take away and extract.

 

Swarm prevention is a big part of beekeeping during May, June and July (and sometimes even later in the year).  Not only is a swarm considered to be a nuisance by many people, but it means the loss of the all important queen and about one‑half of the worker bees which isn’t good for honey production! 

 

Our honey is produced from nectar from mixed wildflowers, trees and garden plants – whatever is flowering – and all the honey is raw and unblended, so the colour and flavour varies from batch to batch.  Later in the season, we take some hives to the heather moors where the bees collect nectar from the ling heather and produce a very special and unique honey.

 

Bees, whether they are honeybees, bumble bees or one of the many types of solitary bee are very important to our ecology and food production – without them we would not have fruit or many vegetables, oils and wildflowers.  Everyone can help to encourage bees in their gardens or back yards by planting bee‑friendly plants, especially ones that flower early or late in the season.

 

We sell honey and generally have some in stock for most of the year.  All honey starts runny but will often set naturally if it is not heat treated (we don't heat treat - all our honey is raw as nature intended), so we cannot guarantee always to have runny honey available.  We also run taster sessions and give talks to schools and groups.

 

If you don’t like set honey, you can put a jar into a pan of warm water and after a few hours the honey will start to go runny again.

 

If you’re not sure of the difference between honey bees and wasps, we hope these pictures help.  Wasps have more defined yellow and black stripes and look as if they’re wearing armour, whereas honey bees are hairy and less obviously stripy.  Honey bees look untidy when flying as their legs trail along underneath them.  The Derbyshire strain of honey bees tends to be very dark.

    

           

 Bumblebee                                                            Honey bee                                                 Wasp

 

If you are interested in finding out more about beekeeping, we recommend that you contact your local Beekeeping Association. We are members of Derbyshire Beekeepers' Association which have monthly meetings on Tuesday evenings in Crich.
 
All text and pictures © Oaks Lane Farm 2008 to present