Posts Tagged ‘amber’

A beekeeping library

Whilst it is quiet on the actual bee keeping front over winter it is the perfect time to catch up on some background reading, take onboard new knowledge that can applied to your bee keeping practise throughout the following year and increase your enjoyment and understanding of the actual bees themselves and not just the practice of trying to maximise a honey crop.

Bee library

Bee library

Since I started with the bee keeping about three years ago I seem to have gathered quite a few books on the subject, some bought by me and others given as presents. My first book on the subjest was ‘Bees at the bottom of the garden’ which seemed to be a popular choice for including in the bee keeping starter packs that the equipment suppliers provide. This was great introductory book but soon led onto more slightly  indepth books on the subject.

With the risk of being called ‘nerdy’ I thought I would briefly add a few web reviews the books I have here:

Bees at the bottom of my garden

Beekeeping is a hobby any interested amateur could explore - that is the message of this work which aims to take the mystique out of keeping bees. Alan Campion uses his own experiences to describe in plain terms how to go about setting up a hive, and what to expect from your bees.

Keeping bees and making honey

This is a comprehensive and attractive lifestyle guide to beekeeping - from finding your bees to getting them home, housing them, collecting honey and using their produce.It includes a detailed look at the history of bees and beekeeping, and an extensive introduction to help you to fully understand your bees and keep them happy.Whether you have a tiny balcony or acres of land; live in the middle of a city or in the countryside surrounded by flowers, this book caters for every situation, discussing the different types of hive available for every eventuality.It features a detailed section on gardening for bees, as well as comprehensive advice on how to safely collect your honey and wax, with recipes and ideas on how to use them."Bees" fuses contemporary lifestyle design and an authoritative text, to appeal not only to those who already have bees, but to those who are thinking of having them or even just like the idea of having them - it will 'sell the dream'.


Guide To Bees And Honey

Intended for both new and experienced beekeepers, this invaluable and highly illustrated volume provides answers to virtually every beekeeping question - from avoiding swarms to setting a hive up for winter."Guide to Bees and Honey" also presents expert advice for readers who plan to maintain a few hives for personal, recreational use, as well as those who want to expand an existing colony into a commercial venture.Also included in this volume is a section on the Varroa mite - a particularly nasty parasite that has proved fatal to many British hives. It explains what it does, how it spreads, and effective ways to treat and prevent infestation.

Hive Management

Offers concise, up-to-date information on beekeeping tasks, including how to prevent, capture, and control swarms, when and how to harvest honey, and dealing successfully with queens.

Honey Farming

This is one of the great beekeeping books of all time. Manley draws on his commercial esperience to explain all aspects of beekeeping. This is a book which is a joy to read, you read it, then reread it. As your experience improves you will understand more & more of the value of Manleys words. STRONLY RECOMMENDED

Bees And Honey - From Flower To Jar

Bees make honey; we all know that. But what happens between the bee buzzing around our garden, and the sticky knife in the jar, is a mystery to most of us. Based on careful observation and years of experience, Michael Weiler here reveals the secret life of bees. He looks at all aspects of a bee's life and work and vividly describes their remarkable world. Did you know that it takes approximately 12,000 bee-hours to make one jar of honey? (At GBP5.30 per hour, that would mean one jar should cost around GBP63,600.) This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in the intricacies of nature and our world.

Honey - natures golden healer

There is growing evidence to show that honey is hugely beneficial to our health, from its antibacterial properties to helping relieve hay fever to even inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Drawing on her background in the biological sciences, Gloria Havenhand reveals how we can harvest the beehive for anything from reviving tonics to beauty treats. Not only does she demonstrate how honey is essential for healthy living, but tackles other under-appreciated and lesser-known bee products such as propolis, a sticky resin, which can help skin conditions such as psoriasis; pollen used to relieve hay fever and boost the immune system and royal jelly and beeswax uesd in cosmetics to rejuvenate the skin. With increasing numbers of people interested in ditching drugs for natural alternatives to combat health problems from allergies to acne, this book is a timely look at how the beehive can help us look and feel better.

The Honey Bee - Inside Out

This book is designed to present detailed information about the anatomy and physiology of the honey bee in a clear and concise format. Each of the eight chapters covers an aspect of bee biology and all are copiously illustrated. The author has drawn most of the diagrams from her own dissections, giving a realistic, rather than idealistic impression of the parts involved. Also included, are an appendix giving the background to scientific terminology, a wide-ranging glossary including phonetic spellings and suggestions for further reading. This is a book that will inform anybody who is interested in this fascinating insect. It is based on the examination modules set by the British Beekeepers' Association, but this text will prove interesting for anyone wanting to know more about our honey bees.


On top of the books membership to the British Beekeepers Association also includes a monthly magazine called BeeCraft. The local branch of the BBKA also have a book library with some of the rarer books as well as newer titles.


How much should local honey cost?

comb honey

Having spent two weeks down in North Devon and then Cornwall and looking at the prices of local Exmoor honey and the honey from Quince’s Bee Farm at South Moulton  I have been pondering what to charge for my own honey this year?

Obvioulsy I cannot incorporate my set-up costs of buying the hives and bees, the other apiary hardware needed during the beekeeping season, honey strainers, buckets and settling tanks or even the time and petrol costs of visiting the hives every 7 – 10 days between the beginning of April up until early August.

I did feel that it was fair, however, to cover the cost of the jars at 45p each (from Thornes), the sugar needed to make the syrup to feed back to the bees (approx 15k g per hive so £45 for three hives) and the Apilife Var treatment to help to remove the Varroa Destructor parasite from the hive before the bees settle down for the winter. There is also the possibility that the weather is not favourable next year and the bees do not collect enough honey to extract a crop (the last 5 years have been poor in the UK) but they will still require feeding sugar syrup, candy and treating for Varroa mite. Beekeeping is not for profiteering!

The price of imported honey has driven down the consumers expectations of cost but the reality is that the supermarkets are selling over processed, highly filtered honey (and sometimes modified with other additional ingredients) at rock bottom prices but this lacks the texture and flavour of real honey.

There is also much to be said for the use of local honey to help with hay fever with the honey containing nectar from the very plants that cause the allergies to start with as well as having many other beneficial health properties.

Bee populations are also in decline throughout much of the world, having had several bad years with fewer colonies surving the winter, and with additional environmental strains taking its toll the price of honey is invariably increasing. Additionally the poor sugar cane crops abroad have pushed up the price of sugar so another  knock-on effect is the increased cost of feeding the bees gallons of sugar syrup once the honey has been removed.

So what is a fair price? You will never get paid for your labour as a beekeeper, or paid to be the one to brave thousands of angry bees or take the stings in order to extract a honey crop – these are done out of the simple enjoyment of looking into a super society and trying to understand what is going on inside the bees world, and attempting to interpret what you see in order to try and pre-empt their next move, or needs, and prevent them from just leaving town, after all they are not prisonors in the hive.

Honey for saleSpa Valley Honey

The real crime is that the bees just about survive each year, but they are not rewarded for all their effort – millions of flowers are visited and a riduculous number of miles flown to do it – thousands upon thousands of bees were born and died to bring in every jar and yet beekeepers slap each other on the back on the success of their honey crop and forget to mention the real workers!

I guess a jar of honey is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it – every jar has a unique taste – tied to one specific area (you can’t make Kent honey in China!!!!). There is a very limited supply and even this is not predictable as it is so weather dependant, as well as being affected by insect disease, insecticide and pesticide use and various other environmental influences.

My last thought of the day is that it would be very sad if one day I had to try and describe the taste of honey to my grandchildren as the bees were longer here, and honey was no longer a reality, so it is very important to keep supporting the few of us that want to help the bees survive – ultimately it is an investment in your own future!

Honey extraction and the honey crop 2010

Having had a few weeks off  ‘bee duty’ during the first few weeks of August I returned home from my holiday ready to see if any honey was left in the supers and decide how much to take off and how much to leave for the bees. The rough rule of thumb is that the bees will need 40lb of honey left in the hive in order that the colony to survives through the winter.

Following the inspection I was happy to see that the wet weather in August hadn’t led the bees to eat all their honey supplies and I would be able to extract some honey this year, even if mainly only from one of the three hives. I placed a clearer board with the porter bee escapes attached under two full supers, leaving a third super underneath the clearer board to give the bees space to escape into without causing over crowding in the brood chamber.

I returned 24 hours later hoping that the supers would be clear of bees but unfortunately there were still plenty of bees hanging around the honey – possibly because the bad weather hadn’t enticed them out or to move around the hive that much. I had an empty super with me so I removed the first honey super and carried it about 8 metres way from the other hives and brushed each frame clear of bees with a soft bee brush, placing the now clear frame in the empty super and covering it over with a towel to prevent the recently ejected bees from returning to their honey. This went surpisingly smoothly, again possibly due to the wet and windy weather the bees very quickly flew back to their hives. I was able to remove 18 full frames from one hive and 3 from another, the swarm collected earllier in the year have plenty of honey below the queen excluder but nothing above so they will not supply me with any honey this year.

This is a relatively low yeild, with the average UK hive supplying about 50lbs of honey per year but the bees have drawn out all new comb in the hives this year, around 90 frames in total, and this in itself uses up a huge amount of honey in energy and wax production.

The honey extractors are the single most expensive piece of any beekeepers equipment, and as yet I do not own one, I am however lucky enough to have friend who does so I took the supers of honey, still warm from the hive, for uncapping and extraction at her house.

The extraction process is quite straight forward, the wax cappings that seal the honey into the comb are removed using an uncapping fork or uncapping knife and then the frames are placed in a centrifrugal device, either in a radial or tangial pattern, and the honey is literally spun out, hitting the sides of the extractor and then draining down into a honey holding area near the base.

The honey is then run through a coarse strainer, followed by a fine strainer before being held in a settling or ripening, tank for 24 hours to allow any air bubbles that were introduced during the spinning cycle to escape. The extracted honey is then run off into jars, bottles or buckets.

The 21 frames extracted this year yeilded about 41lbs of honey so not bad for a first crop!