My mum who is highly suspicious of bees, wasps, gnats and ‘flying things’ finally met my bees this Saturday.
She visited the apiary on the promise of no bees, ‘The bees will be sleeping because it is almost winter’, I said. This isn’t entirely true. Bees don’t sleep. But the apiary is generally quieter in late autumn and winter, except for a few bees taking a chance flight in a pocket of warm air and a few crazy beeks huddled around the apiary long table in the hope of tea and cake.
A small crowd greeted my mum, step dad and me on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed watching my mother nervously approach the hive area. We visited Rosemary’s hive first and no one was flying so mum was very happy. ‘That’s very nice,’ she said of the hive. Opposite, Albert’s and John’s bees were active, but we walked past unnoticed.
Next we visited Lavender’s hive and I attempted to show my mum the mouse guard. She raised her head from where she stood at the back of the hive and pretended to see it: ‘Yes, that’s very nice’.
My step dad, Bryan, then became fascinated with inspecting the canal that runs behind the apiary. Meantime, I carefully lifted the roof off Lavender’s hive to see if they had drunk their syrup. About half an inch of syrup was left in the feeder and three bees were drinking. I beckoned my mum over so that she could see a real live bee, promising that it couldn’t fly out of the feeder. She quite liked watching it drink and said, ‘Ooh, look at that’.
I quickly put the roof back to keep our bees warm. Emily and I probably won’t open our hives until the apiary does the oxalic acid treatment in December. We do this to keep down the levels of varroa inside the hive until spring. I pulled out the varroa board underneath Lavender’s hive and showed mum and Bryan a few varroa. Most of the debris on the board was clumped together in one area, which suggests that our bees are clustered on brood frames towards the entrance of the hive.
So we left the bees in peace and went to enjoy a cup of tea. There was no milk and as my mum is not a hardened beek accustomed to drinking black tea I found her some coffee instead.
Don arrived with his dog Annie, a gorgeous, friendly alsatian. Mum and Bryan love dogs (and so do I) so this delayed our goodbyes. As we left, my mum and step dad were invited by the beeks to come back for summer inspections on the promise of ‘much more bees and also cake’.