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Beekeeping in Lincolnshire ~ An Overview of Keeping Bees

Beekeeping in Lincolnshire
That sounds interesting I hear you cry and that’s what I thought, “keeping bees sounds very interesting” but my dear friends it’s far from interesting . . .
It’s unimaginably fascinating !
Regulars, I hope, know enough about me now to know I wouldn’t say such a thing without good reason or knowledge - so to that end this afternoon . . .
Your host went beekeeping in Lincolnshire - I hope you’ll give this a read as it’s another cracker

Before we get started my thanks and appreciation go out to beekeeper extraordinaire Marcus Short without whom none of this would have been possible.
His kind invitation and hospitality lead to what can only be described as a glorious afternoon.

The downside of this article is I learnt so much it’s going to be impossible to do the full afternoon justice in one article so this will serve as something of an overview.

A Colony of Bees is Living Perfection
We’ve all seen bees but how many have thought simply as I did - a bee’s a bee ? In ignorance I knew they made honey and were generally busy but actually seeing a hive in action and getting up close was a real eye and mind opener.
Needless to say your host, who is renowned throughout the world for acts of ‘derring do’ in the pursuit of articles for his cherished readers, was in there at the sharp end.


a beehive being opened

That would be me - suited and booted but . . . note: sans gloves

If ever a man was infectious then it’s Marcus and after chatting about all things bee related, all matters natural and organic not to mention alternative lifestyles I got a crash course in beekeeping and checking hives - a bit of colony housekeeping if you will.
A little bit of smoke makes the bees easier to manage - not too much though - only a suggestion. The top of the hive can then be removed revealing the honeycombed sections - it’s a tremendous sight - a miracle of nature


wafting smoke

Smoking Bees !

Did You Know

These hives can contain between 70,000 to 125,000 bees
Every bee in the hive has a specific job which usually changes as they get older.
It takes 21 days for a bee to emerge from an egg and then it starts a career
1: Firstly it’s a House Bee - primarily cleaning and polishing honeycombs
2: Guard Bee
3: Scout or Forager which is does for most of its life span
Some bees just collect water to regulate the humidity of the hive and staggeringly the water content of natural honey is always exactly 17%
Male bees are entirely reliant on the females for food and when in September he is no longer required for breeding he is, quite literally, dragged out of the hive by 4 or 5 female bees and thrown out - left to die outside !


a frame of honey and beeswax

The final product - a frame of honey and beeswax

I actually tasted the honey from this honeycomb, pulled a bit off and ate it and licked my fingers - how good is that - absolutely fresh and pure - it was stunning - a world away from what you buy in the supermarket

It was an honour and a thrill to actually be able to handle part of a hive like this and something I’ll not forget. Afterwards whilst sitting in the glorious sun and enjoying some of Marcus’ staggeringly good homemade mead talk turned to the correlation between bees and life.
What you see is perfection, a system and a community living, working and surviving in perfect harmony - not only that but with ruthless efficiency - it has to be a template for a way of life transferable, in principal, to us as human beings.
I’m sure if we did things more like bees the world wouldn’t be in such a mess !


macro photograph of honey bees

Honey Bees

There is a sad side to this which I intend to tackle in a separate article, the Varroa Mite, more of that to come another day.
Today we’ll keep as a happy day. It so nearly didn’t come off - all very last minute, even then it stuttered and stalled due to the weather. It had to be abandoned in the morning as it really needs to be warmer weather when it comes to the safer handling of bees - something else I didn’t know.

It was a tremendous afternoon and it had a great impact on me, Marcus, his farm and organic products are something we’ll return to in future articles. Suffice is to say your host is now much enriched both in knowledge and experience.
I’ve tried not to drone on (sorry) and keep this article more about the experience than specifics with a desire to get over just what a great time I had.
Any mistakes are mine of course and I just wish I could bring you everything verbatim - it was tremendous and I feel most fortunate.

I hope you enjoyed sharing my latest exploit and as always any comments are more than welcomed - I shall raise a glass to Marcus, his bees and all of you tonight and yes it will be a glass of mead - the drink of history - perfect end to a perfect day
Busily Yours
Rod

9 Comments »

  1. Femme Fatale said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

    Rod,

    That sounds absolutely fantastic, what a great experience for you and thank you for sharing it with us.

    The pictures are great and brings your day alive to us.

    FF
    xx

  2. chris keyworth said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

    looks like a good day great photos aswell pleased you finaly got round to going up to marcus’s place i must nip down and see him while im stopping in habrough

    regards
    chris

  3. Rod said,

    July 9, 2010 @ 8:30 am

    FF,
    thanks for that, really appreciated - it’s what I tried to do. I cannot do the bees justice in an article like this but I want to try and get across how the day went and hopefully share the sights an feelings with others.
    Regards
    Rod

  4. Rod said,

    July 9, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    Chris,
    I so glad I did get down though it was all last minute and nearly didn’t happen at all die to the weather - we don’t want the bees to have cold blood !
    Best
    Rod

  5. Cid said,

    July 9, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    Rod,

    Time to munch an early luncheon
    Hum de dum dum dum
    Oh, I wouldn’t climb this tree
    If a Pooh flew like a bee
    But I wouldn’t be a bear then
    So I guess I wouldn’t care then
    Bears love honey and I’m a Pooh bear
    So I do care, so I climb there
    I’m so rumbly in my tumbly
    Time for something… for something…
    [branch breaks] … sweet! To eat!

    The world of honey and bees is fascinating stuff…. I do feel guilty though that we rob the poor bees of just about everything, wax and propolis and royal jelly….. it’s no wonder they get a bit worked up about protecting the hive. There are different grades of healing manuka honey and some say Scottish heather is best and some say Tasmanian Leatherwood….. I can tell you though that Lincolnshire honey is highly sought after. Is it good for hay fever…. well there’s a debate.

    Cid

  6. Rod said,

    July 9, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    Cid,
    Marcus specially leaves honeycombs etc in the hive over winter for the bees rather than taking everything.
    I think most beekeeepers but some kind of sugary substitute in so as to maximise the yield.
    That’s what was so great about Marcus’ set up - bees first - what the produce second
    Best
    Rod

  7. chris keyworth said,

    July 9, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    manuka honey comes from bees polinating the blosoms of the manuka tree and is still used today as a sterile dressing manuka honey can sell for as much as 60 pounds per jar and is still one of the best anti bacterial and sterile forms of dressing used in the medical profession and probably the best taseting aswell…

    regards
    chris

  8. Jordan said,

    July 12, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

    Rod

    What a great life you lead!

    Great article, especially like the bit “Male bees are entirely reliant on the females for food and when in September he is no longer required for breeding he is, quite literally, dragged out of the hive by 4 or 5 female bees and thrown out - left to die outside” AND “I’m sure if we did things more like bees the world wouldn’t be in such a mess”

    Very big pause for thought! ;)

    Jordan

  9. Rod said,

    July 12, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

    Jordan,
    it’s not a bad existence I have to say - I feel pretty fortunate.

    You’ve cleverly managed to put two things together in a way I hadn’t intended :)
    I should keep the ‘Jordan Factor’ in mind when I’m writing :)
    Best
    Rod

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