A beekeeper’s notes for April


When it rained on Wednesday morning I was torn between feeling happy for the fish in our pond and sorry for the bees in the hives. The day turned out nice for fish and bees with late afternoon sun shining as I left work.

A week done back in the office was exhausting. My chest felt tight as I stood on the tube slowly breathing into a paper bag, which is my (doctor-advised) ‘magic medicine’. It does help when I’m breathless, though I feel ridiculous.

The weight started to lift off my chest as I walked in the door of our lovely home and went through to the garden, listening to the fountain sprinkle (the frog spawn has dissolved and I’ve tried to spy some tadpoles) and watching the blue tits fly in and out of the nesting box.


My beekeeper’s notes for April are poor considering I’ve not done much since helping to get equipment and hive records ready in March, and to knock-up brood frames. Emily has taken excellent care of our bees. The Bailey comb change had been started on Melissa’s and Pepper’s hives, and Chili’s and Chamomile’s colonies have been sold to beginners. This is a wise decision. Two hives are more than enough to keep, because our lives will continue to grow in new ways and bring other adventures.

It was lovely to get back to the apiary yesterday and listen to the chatter of beekeepers. This spring has brought a mixed bag of stories from hive autopsies to supers already overflowing with honey. The apiary was also looking prettily overgrown with bluebells and wildflowers.


John Chapple had tales of ‘floating’ hives visited abroad to picturesque scenes of his own colonies. You can see his pictures, kindly sent by Jonesy’s considerable technical skills demonstrated at the apiary table, on Ealing Beekeepers website’s news blog.

I was pleased to see that the two hives we are keeping, Melissa’s and Pepper’s, are doing well. Emily and I have shared the colony, currently headed by Queen Melissa, for the past few years and they are the loveliest gentlest bees. Emily spotted the queen this week and we put her in the top brood box for the Bailey comb change.

Unfortunately one hive inspection was all I could manage for my first week back, and Jochen ably helped Emily to find Pepper for the Bailey comb change on that colony too.


Thomas had tales to tell of bluebells in Perivale and adventuring in bug hotels. I was sorry to miss the bluebells (I’ve enjoyed them in previous years), although I’m hoping Tom can help create a beautiful bug mansion in our garden some time.

I didn’t take pictures at the apiary as it was nice just to sit and get used to being back. Instead I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures taken in our garden. My next post will be in two weeks’ time as I’ll use that session to catch up on everyone else’s. There’s lots of other reading to do on my blog in the meantime.

I’d also like to say a special thank you to everyone who has wished me well. I’m looking forward to catching up on your blogging very soon. Happy May!



31 thoughts on “A beekeeper’s notes for April

  1. Emma, everything is looking so good, the fish are looking healthy and good to know the hives are ok.. And you are recovering.. And breathing into the paper bag helps..

    The Blue bells are out in our garden.. Love to see them when they are all out in the woods.. Its cooler today typical rainy bank holiday weather.. 🙂 but the gardens so needed the rain..

    Have a lovely Bank-Holiday Emma.. and good to see you are feeling better..

    Hugs Sue ❤

    • Thanks so much Sue! It’s good to know my first attempts to clean the pond filter have kept the fish happy. They seem to trust us more now though I’ve spied a cat venturing into our garden a couple of times – we’ve had a standoff 😉 the bluebells are out in our garden too and more wildlife is moving in. Happy spring days and bright blessings! 🐝🌞🌻

      • Keep an eye out for the cats.. As a cat lover and having kept cats in the past before we had our fish pond.. A neighbours cat took a liking to our fish and scooped one out which later died.. And we also had to rescue a frog.. ( Have you ever heard a frog squeal?) neither had I until the cat had hold of him.. But I caught and rescued the frog, and he is now a happy fivesome with his frogy friends 🙂 We ended up having to put a grid over our pond as word got around the Cat Kingdom.. :-D..
        Have a great weekend.. ❤ and I hope each day you feel better and better.. x

      • I love cats too. We had two lovely cats as childhood pets Kitty and Tommy. I’d like to protect our fish though, and the frog. I thought about putting chicken wire or garden netting across, although that might trap the frog, and other amphibians we perhaps don’t know about, in the pond (I suppose a small hole could be kept in the netting for them to come and go). Then I found pond guard online which the fish seem to like and is supposed to protect them from herons and, hopefully, cats! I’m glad you saved the frog!

      • Yes My hubby made a kind of frame, which stops the cats from sitting on the edge to scoop out the fish. but it has enough room around the sides for the frogs to hop in and out.. They are a godsend to any garden as they will eat the slugs etc.. 🙂 We used to have a heron fly over. but our neighbour who also has a pond got one of those plastic life size herons to stand at the side of her pond.. We have not seen the heron fly over now in years.. So hopefully he has fresh hunting grounds 🙂 Enjoy your garden.. xxx ❤

      • That’s a great idea! My dad’s very handy with wood and DIY and could do something similar! I’d like a frame to put over the pond when we’re not in or away to protect the fish (do you have a picture?) and a fake heron would be fun – a talking point for visitors 🙂

      • I have not any pictures as we take the frame off lol when I take pictures and are out in the garden.. But as Our pond is only a small one its just a grid which we lay over the top.. The kidney shaped pond then has the edged at some points open for the frogs etc.. It also came in handy when our granddaugher was younger as our pond is built up rather than set into the ground she was leaning over it, so it became a safety measure also.. 🙂 If you go to my About Me page you can see me sat on the wall when the pond was newly put in.. its developed a bit since then 🙂

      • Yes Water lilies are lovely, And thank you for that link.. I like the idea of these.. they are less intrusive looking than the nets or grids.. I may persuade hubby to try them. 🙂 Thank you Emma. xxx

  2. Oh my, no wonder you are breathless, I remember the tube in rush hour as hellish. During my brief stint working in London I took to the bus in the end. Glad the hives are doing well. We have been seeing increases in solitary and bumble bees here in suburban Notts. My garden is teaming with Acturia and Dandelion, heather and forgetmenot. All very popular with the bees. I know they are considered weeds but I can’t bear to pull them out.

    • Indeed, city life is not always good for health! I’m glad to hear sightings of bumbles and solitaries finally after a cool spell in spring. And thank you for keeping a patch of wildness for your visiting bees 🙂

  3. The photographs are wonderful Emma. The flowers are very pretty and the koi are looking very healthy. I’m sorry it doesn’t sound as though you’re too well though. I hope things improve along with the weather.It sounds like you’re going to have a great success with the two remaining hives and I shall look forward to reading how thee season progresses.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Thanks David. Sorry I’ve not visited for a while, I’m catching up on my blog reading next weekend. Good you say the koi are looking healthy. I know nothing about looking after them so learning as I go along and constantly reading my Hozelock pond manuals they left behind. Good health and spirits to you this spring! 🐝🌻

  4. Lovely you have frogspawn Emma, don’t know why but that makes me smile I guess its memories of looking for it in streams and ponds as a child and taking some home in a jam jar. It was good to see you at the apiary on Saturday and hope you are back to full strength very soon.

    • I’m told toad spawn is laid neatly like a necklace and frogspawn looks like this. I’ve seen about 5 tadpoles and the mummy frog is only spotted occasionally. Lots to learn about pond life!

  5. The frog spawn reminded me of our daughter when she was young would find it and keep track of the tadpoles…until a snake got into the puddle and ate a bunch. Still she was able to watch some grow into frogs. It was so touching to see her check on them every day.
    I’m glad you’re starting to feel better, but I hope you don’t let this golden excuse for a daily nap slip away. Find some time mid-day to take a short ‘power nap.’ It works wonders! 🙂

    • I remember staying with my grandmother in Africa and having a daily midday lap. Wish I could do that at work! I love the story of your daughter’s tadpole puddle and can understand her fascination with watching how many frogs come of the spawn. I’ve seen new residents recently move into our bug hotel and can’t stop myself peeking at the bottom of the garden each morning to see how many more have moved in!

    • Thanks so much Philip. I’m taking one week at a time and seeing some new insects move into our bug hotel has cheered me immensely! I hope all’s well with you too and some better weather for us ahead.

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