A new year and new preparations for the bees and their hives.
Today we were cleaning, sanding and repainting old bee hives to hopefully bring our hives from 2 to 6 working hives.
We had a visit from our most experienced member of the team, George, who we playfully call The Bee Master as he has more experience in raising bee hives than all of us put together. George supervised our labours to make sure we were doing a good job.
Following our advertisement in the autumn for new bee keepers at Craigie Educational Environment Project (CEEP) at Craigie Farm, we are pleased to introduce to you, not the ‘A Team’ but the new ‘Bee Team’. Paul our most experienced bee keeper(second left) will mentor Blain, (left) and Gaye and Richard (right) to build our hives from the existing 2 hives to 6 by the summer of 2018. Other members of our team is George and Willie who are our neighbouring bee keepers and mentors, and in the coming months will oversee our progress and of course without Graham Clarkson, CEEP Chair all this would not be possible.
This is now the winter time and the bees are less active outside but inside the hive they are busy concentrating on feeding themselves and keeping the hive queen warm. For them to do this, we need to go and give them a helping hand by feeding the bees a ‘Fondant’ which is a sugary paste and adding warm blankets to the hives to help keep the queen and bees warm.
During the winter months the Bee Team will make new honey frames, called ‘foundation frames’ these are the base of which the bees will make either into new honeycombs for the new bee hives or cells for growing new worker bees.
Wintertime is about the preparation of making 4 new bee hives for new bee colonies to settle into and to do this we will need to make 11 frames in the brood box per hive ( the place where the queen lays eggs to create new bees) and 11 frames for each of the honey super boxes, the place where the honey will be made and stored by the bees.
Please keep following us, the Bee Team with our progress through the coming months as we prepare a safe apiary for you to come and visit from early summer 2018.
Our new classroom will shortly be ready for use. Our thanks to World of Football for donating the portakabin. Derek Clark and his team at D J Clark Decorators have done a great deal of work renovating and painting inside and out. We will now have a homely and cosy base for the project, which will last us many years.
Our apiary site is now looking good thanks to all the volunteers hard work; the first full inspection of all hive colonies has taken place. A new queen bee was found in Anna & Elsa marked and wings clipped, other hives have evidence of a queen laying. The strength of the colonies is not great but at least they have survived the winter. In general neighbouring bee keepers colonies have died off due to the poor end to autumn last year and the recent poor weather.
This month we will be encouraging all our bee colonies to expand in numbers, which will involve first ensuring each hive has a strong queen, then keeping a watch on the egg laying and brood within the frames. As well as double brood boxes per hive we have also placed on the first honey super to encourage bee storage and hopefully surplus for us to remove.
Traditionally the end of May is the start of the bee swarming season; this is the natural instinct of the bees to propagate the species by division, commonly called swarming. Hopefully we will be able to stop our hives from splitting by removing new queen cells and starting new young colonies.
We now have a functioning solar wax extractor where surplus wax, cappings, propolis from old frames can be melted down and bees wax collected.
We will still meet every Sunday and Monday afternoons, there are ample bee suits for all, to take part in the hive manipulations.
Eleven of us braved the elements on Thursday 28 April and benefitted from a most informative course. It was good to see that every group was represented. We were able to see first hand what can be achieved. Ben Dell from the Edible Garden Project provided excellent tuition and lots of tips. The primary one was – read the instructions on the seed packet. We are looking forward to seeing the results at Craigie’s.
Our next working party is on 6/7/8 May from 09:30 – 16:00 each day. Please can you help us?
We have been very busy at Craigies this year, but need to complete some work, before we can look at the next stage and prepare ourselves for two public openings – The Farm Open Day on 5 June and The Power of Food Festival on 18 and 19 June.
Please can you give us some of your time to help us? Some, but not all will require physical effort.
The main task will be to build the common area, which will allow us to add tables, benches and a barbecue to the site.
We will also be planting up hanging baskets for the High Street and for sale in the shop. This one our main sources of income.
The site needs a good clean up and there will be some digging of new plots, ready for groups to take on.
Please try to come along, even if it is just to see the changes.
To aid our planning, please can you let us know if you are likely to help and when you might come along?
Queensferry Men’s Shed have been meeting up each Friday in the classroom. After coffee and a biscuit, they have been tackling various jobs around the project. Last week 1 April, a group rotavated the new plot, whilst others set to in the polytunnel. This week the the team potted on some 1000 plugs and started on the hanging baskets, ready for sale in the shop. Some just came for coffee and a chat.