From the Blue Corner by Caroline MacDonald 

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From the Blue Corner – by Caroline MacDonald

As someone* famous once said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”, that is exactly how we acted in Eblana Beekeeping in recent times.

I got a new queen recently wearing the blue colour of this year. She is now doing well in the colony which I split from a vigorous colony in my apiary and hoping that all goes well. 

Swarming season was busy with a neighbour waving goodbye to the gals as they went off into the wide blue yonder. Maybe somebody from Eblana got those, in any case I hope that they are all happy. One does not like to see a swarm exiting the apiary so the beekeeper intervenes…usually.

It had been a busy time finding a venue for the association members to meet in late last year as the fledgling association prepared for flight. We found a venue which proved to be good.

 Once the Beekeeping Course was finished we had our sights on siting and preparing the association apiary. In an urban setting it can be tricky to find a nice spot with the Goldilocks factor. It must be secluded but not overlooked or too close to housing. It is good to have parking which can be difficult in a streetscape. It is good if there are wildflowers instead of brightly coloured garden plants which can be useless for forage. We hope that the neighbours are not too fond of the sprayer which adds a cocktail of undesirable chemicals.

At first we had a nice site which allowed bees the ideal flight path it was fairly secluded with water readily available nearby. Unfortunately there were some inquisitive souls, living locally, who wanted to investigate the hive a little too closely. The joys of urban beekeeping! Thankfully there was no colony inside so no real harm was done. Lesson learned, we moved on. Now I know why beekeepers might like to place hives on a cathedral roof [the matter of carrying the equipment up there is not discussed]. 

Eventually we found a place. Following some heavy lifting, pulling and dragging and not a little skill at the “wheel” [levers] the site was prepared and made ready. 

Some members had an exchange of nucs to that site when the 2km limit was lifted. This was an exciting day as it was the very first colony for some beekeepers and for others it was to improve the quality of bees in the apiary. The nucs were prepared by an experienced beekeeper whom we trust. Sourcing nucs is for another day and when one reads of stolen hives and colonies it emphasizes the need to know the source of the hive production. Keeping the source local is also good as those bees are adapted to this specific area with its own climatic idiosyncrasies. 

Prior to lock-down everyone in the association was looking forward to visiting the apiary. From my experience as a beginner and novice beekeeper I valued the apiary visits. It’s at the apiary that the essential skills of beekeeping are transferred and is really central to receiving good beekeeping skills. It can also be the decider as to whether one wants to keep bees or appreciate them from a small remove. The rhythms within the beehive can be observed as the season progresses and differences can be observed from year to year.

I am sorry that apiary visits with members are not happening so far this year although the assembly of a group of fifteen persons at a social distance for training may allow small gatherings at apiaries. One can look at videos and learn something. In my opinion nothing surpasses being present and being able to ask questions in a real time setting. The inexperience person can have an opportunity to manipulate frames [which was daunting when I first did that]. Apiary visits are especially valuable prior to exams which equips the novice for real- life -beekeeping.

The social aspect of apiary visits is invaluable. We can share our beekeeping experiences and knowledge. Friendships can develop leading to help when needed at our own apiary/hive.

Many thanks to the committee members who liaised with people in order to have access to a site which we liked. This entailed hours of phone calls and visits to potential places. Hopefully this new adventure will be the first of many in IBAclg. 

In any case hopefully we will be able to meet, within Covid19 protocols and enjoy beekeeping as it is meant to be. I am hoping that everybody is well and healthy. There have been some scary moments but wishing that we stay strong.

Happy beekeeping all. 


*go discover who it was.

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