An Inspiring Introduction to Beekeeping
Continuing my quest to learn more about bees, I recently attended a beginners day on beekeeping at my former workplace – The Glasshouses, Killult http://www.natithegloine.com
The day began with watching several videos from The University of Guelph Honey Bee Research Centre http://www.uoguelph.ca/honeybee/videos.shtml on best techniques for opening hives and colony inspection.
In summer, it is good practice to check each hive on a weekly basis.
Our practical experience included checking on mating hives, where virgin queens are left alone with 300 bees, thus ensuring future generations.
Please note that although I had donned a protective suit, my ankles remained bare. Thankfully, the bees stayed away from my feet.
It is wise to completely cover up.
Mating Hive Inspection
Each hive was carefully inspected, and the bees all looked healthy and happy.
The white substance on the right is fondant, which the bees like to eat.
We continued our practical studies at the main beehives, located near an abundance of wildflowers.
Our tutor opened the hive, and we got a close look at the inside.
As each frame was held high, we identified pollen in cells, Drone cells, Worker cells, the Queen…
Drone cells have a raised appearance, and Worker cells have a flatter seal.
The Queen is usually marked with dye to allow for quicker identification. Each year, the dye colour is changed, which allows beekeepers to monitor the age of each Queen.
In a healthy hive, a Queen Bee will live for at least two years but can live for up to five. She can lay up to 2500 eggs in a day.
Drones and Worker Bees
Sadly, Drones have a lifespan of up to four months, while Worker bees can live for four months in winter, or just six to seven weeks in summer.
Life Long Learning
The day was incredibly interesting, but I realise now that beekeeping entails life long learning.
I shall endeavour to continue my studies.
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Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.