Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus Feb18 AM
Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus

March Notes

When putting sterilised frames in an outside apiary shed one cold day in Feb, I saw a Shrew running around the plastic tray in which a brood box with drawn comb was sitting. The board covering the top had moved leaving a small gap. Lifting the brood box, a large pile of leaves fell out. I carefully replaced the box, and the gap, with the shrew back between two frames, as they eat small pests. Yes, I know I shall have to recycle the frames in the spring but I am rather fond of shrews.

If you need to stock up on any beekeeping equipment for the year ahead, Mantel Farm have new products and a wide selection of essentials.

With a bit of luck we may be able to make a quick inspection later in March if it reaches about 12 °C and light wind. Clean Cover cloths will help keep the warmth in. I have already seen them all taking in crocus and snowdrop pollen so am sure they all have brood but in this brief first inspection I shall concentrate on seeing if this is worker brood (hopefully no drone, indicating either queen loss or drone laying queen) and that they have space for the queen to lay in. From my last inspections in the autumn I already know which ones will need a shook swarm to replace all the dark frames in April, or just a few old frames which can be changed over the next few weeks before the brood area expands back into them making it more complicated. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

bee drinking from water drops in grass Amanda Millar Jan18
Bee drinking from water drops in grass

Preparing For Spring

Only a month to go before beekeeping starts again; time to make sure all our equipment is clean, there are some supers and frames ready to put on and some brood boxes and frames ready for the shook swarms and frame replacement which I always have to do on a few in the spring. You can leave putting the foundation in until the beginning of March to keep it fresh and fragrant. It will also be worth putting the insert in for a week at some point to see if they need a quick varroa treatment in March before the supers go on. Keep hefting the hives; the queens will be laying more now and the store’s consumption will go up. If necessary use fondant until March when it will be warm enough for syrup, but don’t overfeed or they will just move it all into your new supers as the brood area expands. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News”

Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – Coincidental Chance

From his fifth and latest book “Life Presented in Verse“, comes a poem of “romantic hope” that we can always find or get caught by love. It is entitled “Coincidental Chance”.

The Psychy Poet
The Psychy Poet

Coincidental Chance

You spoke to me out of the blue
And I didn’t know who you were,
But like Pitney’s “24 hours from Tulsa”
Such happenings can occur.
For I had felt an instant shudder
That I couldn’t quite control,
Also a strange realisation
You had touched my very soul. Continue reading “Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – Coincidental Chance”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

beekeeping-notes

Temperatures and Clusters

At this time of year, we cannot see what the bees are up to except by observing the entrance or briefly lifting the crown board. The 20 colonies I am currently looking after are all reacting differently, probably related to their genetic make-up, colony size and disease states. In the course of ridding them of mites by dusting, and therefore opening most of them twice a week in November I have seen some in a tight quiet cluster, others are loosely clustered and active. Some are low down in the hive and I have to take the heavy super off to find them. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Butterfly on hive
Butterfly on hive

Checking Hives

There is little to do in December except checking that the hives have not blown over, or been damaged by woodpeckers, damp or vandalism and that the entrances are not blocked by dead bees. Put the insert in mid month for a week (or do an icing sugar dust to get a more accurate and rapid assessment) in order to assess the mite drop and decide whether oxalic acid treatment is necessary at the end of the month. Sussex University believe that if any sealed brood is removed just before doing an oxalic treatment, this will last for a full year. Do take appropriate personal safety measures and read thoroughly the dosage etc to prevent harm to yourselves and the bees. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics”

Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More

Christmas Cheer

Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop
Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop

We hope you like our Christmas newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. So it’s the last newsletter of 2017! I know we all say it; but where has the year gone? With the recent sharp frosts lasting most of the morning, and the fire alight in the shop, it is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas and it doesn’t seem quite so strange putting the decorations up (I must make those mince pies!) Continue reading “Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More”

Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?

At a recent business event I had the pleasure of meeting Laurie, who has written so many great poems – his books are definitely included in our family’s stockings, and I just wanted to share his work with you all here. Laurie has supposedly retired, now spending his time writing and sharing his poems. All the profits made from his work go to the Help for Heroes Charity so this is a great way to enjoy a poem, buy a great gift and help a great cause.

The Psychy Poet
The Psychy Poet

IS it Merry Christmas?

Christmas cheer fills the world
All ready for that special day,
Got to have the greatest meal
For the best ever family day.
Smiling faces beam for the photo
All happy sat round the table.
Well mostly smiling, some just trying,
To look as happy as they’re able! Continue reading “Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees collecting water
Bees collecting water

Varroa Update

The varroa ‘bomb’ has struck again, in about the second week of October. In August my mite levels were generally low and I got most of them down to single figures after a dusting. I usually check again mid October, but was a week later than planned as I hurt my back lifting a too heavy super. I dusted on 20th October and was horrified, but not surprised, to have drops of between 19 and 550, so whenever weather permits, I shall be dusting. In 2012 all those which dropped more than 300 after a dusting at the end of October, died. The weather was poor that year though, so they were probably more susceptible. It will be interesting to see if the two this year dropping 400 and 550 die over winter. I hope not as they were promising new colonies this year. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention”

New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening

New Look Newsletter

Frame of Bee Brood
Frame of Bee Brood

We hope you like our new look newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. Having carried out some research into how people view our newsletters we have found that the old format was behaving badly on some phones and devices, so we hope this style will be easier for all to read (please do give feedback). Continue reading “New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening”

Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed

Happy Pigs

A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns
A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns

The leaves are dropping already! The plum tree is now nearly bare and there are conkers and leaves all over the track (time to start raking!) The Oaks are only just beginning to turn, but they are loaded with Acorns this year and much to the pigs delight they are constantly dropping into their pen! Continue reading “Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees orange ragwort or pale balsam pollen
Ragwort pollen pouring in, in response to first feed in early September. Entrance (5.5mm high) reduced right down with sponge to help defend against wasps and robbers.

Feeding and Varroa Check for Winter

Feeding syrup should be completed by now, this is so the bees have time before the weather becomes colder, to reduce the moisture in it as they would with nectar so it will keep over winter. If they still do not have what they need, I expect that 2:1 syrup or invert syrup is still better than anything else such as fondant, until the weather falls consistently below 14°C, at which point they go into a cluster. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths”

Electric Van, School Holidays, Allen & Page, Home Farmer Article, Special Offers, Gardening Talk

Wheels In Motion

August is the month where all routine seems to fly out the window! With variable weather and the school holidays added to the usual mix of madness. This year is our youngest sons last school holiday – a real reminder that the years move so quickly, it still seems only the other day that we no longer had any family at Primary School, now it’s a year of GCSEs and decisions on where to go next!

Those who follow us on our Facebook page may have seen that at the beginning of August we collected our new electric van. A big step forward for us to have a dedicated business vehicle – hopefully putting an end to the last minute folding up the seats in our car and travelling squashed between bits of chicken run, beehives, feed and chickens! (Although for larger chicken run installations and shows I am sure this wont yet be a thing of the past!)

Chris with our electric van
Chris with our electric van

Continue reading “Electric Van, School Holidays, Allen & Page, Home Farmer Article, Special Offers, Gardening Talk”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

How quickly the seasons turn

It is now damp and cloudy and some leaves are turning brown; bee populations are reducing brood although still active in the warmth. All seem to be in robbing mode and as soon as I open my honey shed door or garage where my licked supers are stored they are in there sniffing around. I am careful to cover the frames with cover cloths when opening hives and when I do icing sugar treatments I stuff a cloth at the back to prevent the wasps and robbers messing up the insert drop. Be especially careful not to drop any wax or syrup on the ground. If you start feeding, do the first one in the evening and try to do them all at the same time to minimise the excitement it causes. I must put my wasp traps up.

Bee on Sedum
Bee on Sedum

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop”

Allen and Page Feeds – Introduction To The Smallholder Range

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This is her introduction as a contributor to the Mantel Farm newsletter each month…

Emily Brown - Allen and Page
Emily Brown – Allen and Page

What makes the Smallholder Range so different?

Non-GM Ingredients

To be able to offer you the very highest standard of feed the Smallholder Range does all that they can to ensure that all the ingredients used are grown from seed which is not genetically modified (Non-GM). Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Introduction To The Smallholder Range”

Wasp Traps, Red Mite Advice, Asian Hornets, Poultry Shield Offer, Gardening Tips

Fruit and Honey Harvest

Later this week we hope to take some honey from our beehives. The bees have done extremely well this year, even the colony that was weak to begin with has got stronger and stronger as the early warm weather gave plenty of opportunities for the bees to get out and about foraging. This has also helped the fruit and we have a bumper crop of peaches, plums, apples and pears this year, so much so we have had to prop our peach tree up to stop it from falling over from the weight of the fruit!

Comb of our Honey
Comb of our Honey

Continue reading “Wasp Traps, Red Mite Advice, Asian Hornets, Poultry Shield Offer, Gardening Tips”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

In mid July, I was in the garage scraping some old frames and heard a hum. Rushing outside, I saw a medium sized swarm of bees in the middle of the garden which rapidly made off over the wall, across my neighbour’s garden and up and off far away at quite a speed as though they knew where they were going.

Bees on Goat's Rue
Bees on Goat’s Rue

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather

Bee on Thalictrum flafum
Bee on Thalictrum Flafum

Planting for Bees
In late June I went to RHS Wisley on a sunny day. Salvias and Nepeta were very popular with the bees for nectar and I came home with two varieties from the plant shop, which had the most bees on. Lots of bees were collecting pollen from the yellow pompoms of Thalictrum flavum;  Meadow Rue so it looks like I shall have to locate a plant or seed of that too. Of course, the ‘drifts’ at Wisley are spectacular but my pots look good on my patio.
Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather”

Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article

The year is rushing along quickly, our main Spring / Summer shows are now behind us, the weather has been kind and we all had great fun. Thanks to all those who came along to say hello. As usual it is good to see both new and familiar faces at the shows. At the end of the South of England show we even managed to get us all together for a team photo – looking a little hot and tired after a long weekend, but it was a nice chance to all be in the same place at the same time – something that doesn’t happen often when we are juggling the shop, animals and shows, so many thanks to all the guys for their hard work, we couldn’t do it without them!

The Mantel Farm Team at the South of England summer shows 2017
The Mantel Farm Team – Click the image to see more pictures of us at the 2017 South of England show

This year we ran 2 competitions at the show to celebrate the South of England’s 50th Anniversary. A “guess the number of golden eggs” competition and a “guess the weight of honey” competition at this summer shows.

Continue reading “Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article”