Saturday, 9 April 2011

Honey, Honey

Look!! Do you know what this is? This is our first teaspoonful of Much Malarkey Manor honey, courtesy of the Malarkey Bees. 'How much do you think it cost?' I said to Andy as we spread it on a slice of bread fresh from the breadmaker.

'About £560,' said Andy.

Well, all I know is that it tasted FAB! We live near a park so our bees collect a good variety of pollen from all over the place. If this spoonful is anything to go by, the 2011 vintage is going to be an excellent blend.

We decided to check the hive today for the first time this year. The weather was perfect and for the past two nights there have been a few bees forming a tiny beard on the front of the hive.

Of course, we immediately thought, they can't be planning to swarm, surely? Not at this time of year? But then we were told by all and sundry last year that we wouldn't need to worry about things like re-queening, and we had to re-queen.

So, in we went for an investigate.

Blimey! What a lot of bees!!!! They were cleaning out cells, they were filling cells, they were waggle dancing , they were coming back with HUGE trouserfuls of pollen of many different colours. We found Queen Philibert on frame 4. She was reversing into a cell when we spotted her. She looked up at us.

'Do you mind?' she said. 'I am laying an egg.'

Judging by the number of bees in the hive she'd been laying eggs since Christmas!

Luckily, there wasn't a sniff of any queen cell building malarkey going on. But there was the smell of honey. There was quite a bit of honey-filled brace comb on the queen excluder. So we scraped some off and brought it indoors.

And then, because the brood box was full, and the first super was three quarters full, we knocked up some new frames and put a second super on top to give them more room.

In the kitchen I wondered how to get the honey from the comb. I considered putting it in a sock and then twirling the sock around my head at a high velocity in an attempt to mimic the centrifugal action of a honey extractor. And then I decided perhaps I'd been standing out in the sun for too long.

So instead I got a nylon sieve and I schmushed the comb hard against it with a spoon until the first dribble of Malarkey honey oozed through the other side and there was enough to put on some bread.

And like I said, it was GORGEOUS!!

If the bees keep working like they are at the moment, we should be able to take off a super of honey in August.

It's all very exciting!

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