Honey for sale….


We have reached that time in the year when the majority of apiary tasks are complete and the bees are beginning to reduce their flying hours, except on hot days when you will still find them clustering on the outside of the hive, and our thoughts turn towards the the autumn, mending,  cleaning and storing equipment and studying to understand our bees more.

The honey crop was removed and extracted in August and has now been filtered and is all jarred and labelled ready for sale…

If you don’t normally buy local raw honey consider it, supporting your local beekeepers in turn helps the bees in your area and they pollinate a lot more than your garden flowers!

There are lots of health benefits associated with raw honey as well as having a fantastic and unique taste!

Supporting your local beekeeper will allow them to maintain a number of healthy colonies in your area as well as training the next generation of bee guardians for the future!


Please get in contact with me if you are local to Tunbridge Wells and would like to buy some of this year’s honey crop via the comments below or on twitter @danieljmarsh 

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Happy Christmas from the apiary


Well its coming to the end of 2014 and its been another fantastic beekeeping season, the apiary has expanded and its been a bumper year as far as honey production goes. I’ve started experimenting and using more wax for candle making on a hobby scale and am currently cleaning up the propolis that I have collected over the last few years and am hoping to start making some medicinal tinctures with this, possibly blended with echinacea, in 2015.

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since...

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since…

 

It’s just beginning to to get cold in the south east and hopefully the girls will stop flying soon, we are still waiting to apply our oxalic acid and will be moving the apiary site to a better location in the coming weeks.

The blog articles that have generated the most interest over the year continues to be my writing about using bee venom therapy (BVT) for treating rheumatoid arthritis and it has been a real joy to hear the really positive stories of other people who have felt inspired to try this after reading of our success and have themselves made real progress in overcoming this auto-immune disease. I hope that others looking for advice and information on this subject continue to find the blog and realise the the western drug route for controlling the pain is not the only option open to them.

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Another highlight of my beekeeping year was my wife finally joining me at the hives now the children are slightly older and can entertain themselves whilst we attend the queen and her workers. I think that she was amazed at just how spiritual and humbling the whole experience is of opening up the hives, watching and listening to the bees communicating and absorbing all the associated scents of honey, wax and propolis. I’m looking forward to more joint visits in the sunshine as the 2015 season rolls out.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog this year, there have been over 37, 000 visits at the time of writing this article. Please keep the comments, questions and feedback coming as it is always nice to hear from fellow keepers, wherever you are based in the world.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year, keep an eye on your bees over the winter months and remember to give emergency feed if required and check the hives if we get a repeat of last years storms or any heavy snow.

Snow

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Down at the apiary....

Down at the apiary…. December 2014

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body


I was recently contacted by a US based company who had read some of the blog where I talk about our experience of using BVT to ask me if I would share their infographic detailing the effects of anaphylaxis on the body.  This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

You may have a food intolerance or a minor allergic reaction to something you come into contact with, but that pales in comparison to anaphylaxis. Almost any substance can be an allergen, including foods and insect bites or stings. The cause can’t always be pinpointed. The first time you’re exposed to the substance, your immune system learns to recognize the foreign invader. In anaphylaxis, when you’re exposed again, your immune system has an exaggerated response that affects the whole body and may put your life in danger. Symptoms may begin within seconds and they can progress swiftly.

The first line of treatment is usually adrenaline, because it can turn things around quickly. Once you’ve experienced anaphylaxis, you’re always at risk, so you should take great caution to avoid the triggering substance. Your doctor will probably prescribe adrenaline in the form of a prefilled autoinjector that you can carry with you. If you need to use the autoinjector pen, you can inject yourself or have someone else do it for you. You should always seek medical help after using adrenaline. Symptoms sometimes return, but usually within a 72-hour period.

Immune System

Your immune system fights antigens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It learns to recognize these harmful substances and works to neutralize them. Once your immune system has come into contact with an antigen, it stores the information for future use. When it’s doing its job, you don’t get sick.

Sometimes, when you come into contact with that antigen again, your immune system overreacts, blowing the event out of proportion. Far too much histamine and other inflammatory chemicals are quickly released into your system. This causes a wide variety of problems that can have devastating results.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced naturally by your body. In anaphylaxis, an extra dose can help increase blood flow throughout your body and help reverse the immune system’s aggressive response.

Respiratory System

Inflammation in the respiratory system can cause the bronchial tissues to swell. Symptoms include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It can also cause fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and cough. You may make high-pitched or wheezing sounds when you breathe. A feeling of tightening in the chest and chest pain are common. Respiratory distress is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Untreated, it can lead to respiratory arrest. Patients with asthma are at particular risk.

Skin (Integumentary System)

One of the more obvious signs of anaphylaxis can be seen on the skin. It may start out as itchiness and redness, or just a mild warming of the skin. It can progress to welts, or hives that hurt when you touch them. If your respiratory system is in trouble, skin may turn blue from lack of oxygen. Pale skin means you’re going into shock.

Circulatory System

In anaphylaxis, small blood vessels (capillaries) begin to leak blood into your tissues. This can cause a sudden and dramatic drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms include rapid or weak pulse and heart palpitations. When major organs don’t get the blood and oxygen they need to perform, your body goes into anaphylactic shock. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. Untreated, you are at great risk of damage to internal organs or cardiac arrest.

Digestive System

Even if your reaction is usually mild, food allergies put you at increased risk of developing anaphylaxis. Digestive system symptoms include bloating, cramps, and abdominal pain. You may also have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Central Nervous System

Even before the first physical symptoms occur, some people have a weird feeling – a sense that something bad is about to happen. Others describe a metallic taste in their mouth. Inflammation in the central nervous system can make you lightheaded or dizzy. Some people get a headache. There may be swelling of the eyes. The lips and tongue can swell enough to make it hard to talk. If the throat swells, it can block your airway. Anaphylaxis can cause mental confusion, anxiety, and weakness. Other symptoms include slurred speech, hoarse voice, and difficulty talking. As your body goes into shock, loss of consciousness occurs.

You can see the overview of the report and access the interactive graphics here

Bee venom must always be treated with the utmost respect, even if you are a seasoned keeper who has been stung on multiple occasions. Always make sure that you let someone else know that you are going to visit your bees and where they are, the time you expect to return, carry a mobile phone and any medication that you may require. If in any doubt following a sting alert the emergency services and wait for collection, the last thing they want is you causing a RTA when you pass out behind the wheel on the way to hospital!

I hope to keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

June arrives bringing warmer weather but also swarms galore


Apiary - June 2013

At the apiary – June 2013

It’s been a cold and slow start to the beekeeping year, allegedly the coldest in 46 years and one of the 4 coldest since records began in 1910 and all this is on top of the appalling wet year that we had in 2012. Beekeepers all over the UK recorded above normal losses of bees during the extended winter months and although the coverage about pesticide use and bee loss has continued to dominate the  media many of these bees were simply lost to starvation and the cold weather. I sadly also lost a colony as I reported earlier in the year despite there being fresh bee candy in the hive literally millimeters above the bees…

Healthy bees in may as the colony starts to enlarge

Healthy bees at the hive entrance in may as the colony starts to enlarge

So the flowers were late, I fed my bees a light syrup as spring arrived and the colonies expanded really fast this year – it was great to see and as the belated wild blooms broke through the workers were ready to take advantage and I have had great joy watching the air around the apiary alive with pollen laden bees making their return flights back to the hives during the warmer and sunny days.

During my recent inspections I have seen large and healthy colonies, with the ‘brood and a half’ hive formation full of eggs, brood and stores with no room to spare. My first honey supers went on back in May and these are also now full to overflowing, although the honey is not yet capped. This weekend I added a second super to one hive with a smile as this was done a lot later last year so I feel very optimistic  that  the bees are having a better year already… I certainly hope so!

Chalk brood ejected from the hive

Chalk brood ejected from the hive

Hive checks back in May did reveal a higher level of chalk brood than I had previously seen, I wasn’t worried but interested to know why – then whilst reading another great beekeeping blog – ‘Adventuresinbeeland’s Blog by Emily Heath about her beekeeping in Ealing, West London, she happened to mention chalkbrood in her question/answer section of her informative revision notes for the BBKA exams:

Chalkbrood is an extremely common brood disease which is often present at low levels in colonies. It is thought to become a noticeable problem when the colony is weak and when levels of carbon dioxide rise above normal, because the bees are failing to maintain the correct conditions in the hive. It is also linked to stresses such as insufficient nurse bees, pollen shortage and the presence of sac brood.

Chalk brood is caused by a fungus named Ascosphaera apis. This delightful organism begins to germinate when a larva takes in its spores with its food. Inside the gut, the spores start to grow, producing multiple branches of fine cotton-like threads. These break through the gut wall and continue to grow throughout the body of the poor larva, until eventually it becomes “a swollen mass of fluffy white fungus with a small yellow lump where its head used to be“, as Celia Davis puts it in her excellent book ‘The Honey Bee Around & About’ (2007).

The infected larva dries to a hard chalk-like lump called a ‘mummy’, which can be white, grey or black. These will rattle when the comb is shaken. Death occurs after the cells have been sealed, so workers will tear the cappings open to remove the mummies and dispose of them outside the hive. Unfortunately the mummy spores are sticky and will attach to the bees, causing them to infect larvae when they re-enter the hive. Yet another reason to change brood comb regularly – the spores are resistant to heat and have a life of between 3-38 years.

Like chilled brood, beekeepers are most likely to see chalk brood in the spring when colonies are expanding the brood nest rapidly, but do not yet have a large adult bee population. Even if the resulting chilling is not sufficient to kill the larvae, it seems to encourage the growth of the Ascosphaera fungus.

And as the highlighted section indicates maybe my early feeding and rapid colony expansion was out of sync with the availability pollen to feed the brood once the bees had used that stored over winter in the hives. I guess I could have used a pollen substitute as a supplementary feed (there are many recipes online as well as those commercially produced) but as it is the bees effectively removed all the chalkbrood and it does not seem to have affected them or their ability to fill the hive with brood again and it no longer seems to be a problem at all. Interestingly it also only affected one hive in the apiary.

Buckfast queen back in May, plump and laying very well

Buckfast queen back in May, plump and egg-laying very well

So the colonies are healthy, the queens are fruitful and the number of bees in each hive has rapidly expanded, so much so that the hives had become congested by early June so it was a given that they would try to swarm as soon as the weather improved! My black british queen was first to go – I checked the hive and didn’t spot anything (nor the queen) then came back 10 days later and bang – three fully formed capped queen cells and a fourth in the making – I attempted to carry out an artificial swarm but this was hampered by a sudden downfall of rain and despite going through the hive three times I just couldn’t find that elusive queen so had to assume she had already gone, which kind of defeats the object of an artificial swarm so I moved the whole original hive back into its original location and have now left it to its own devices. The first visual swarm recorded at the apiary this year, and collected by my bee buddy Paul, was likely to have been the first of these virgin queens leaving with a cast or secondary swarm.

Queen in a queen clip

Queen (marked white on left) visible in a queen clip during artificial swarm

Last Friday I checked my  second hive and sure enough my second generation buckfast queen had also been busy with three queen cells formed with eggs laid in them, although quite early in the process I decided to carry out another artificial swarm on the hive but again I struggled to find the queen.

On my last inspection this queen was large and plump and easy to spot due to having been marked earlier in the season. Finally I found her, slimmed down as the bees prepare her for swarming and flight, I popped her into a ‘queen clip’ designed to hold the queen due to her greater size but allowing free movement of smaller worker bees, anyway she walked straight out so it definitely wasn’t my imagination that she was slimmed down! Once she was found again, the artificial swarm was a textbook exercise and I left the queen with three frames of brood and food and a few workers on drawn comb as all the returning workers flying that day will join her, along with those that fly from the daughter hive the following day.

Now its a case of sitting back and counting the days until I check the hives to see how the new and old queens are  getting on and also keeping an eye out for the occasional swarm from Paul’s Warre hives.

Hives after artificial swarm - one has all 'non-flying workers', brood and honey, the other the artificial swarm

Hives after artificial swarm – the nearest one has all ‘non-flying workers’, brood and honey, the next nearest to the right houses the artificial swarm

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog,  feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions or general feedback, click on the right column to subscribe and receive updates when I next have the time between chasing the bees to write again.

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

N.B. clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window.

Bees on veil during an artificial swarm

Bees on my veil during an artificial swarm, people often ask if it bothers me – flying stinging insects all around my face – the answer is NO until they find a way in – always buy a good bee suit!