Our introduction to beekeeping course concluded on Saturday 24 June with the practical element at the Swanmore apiary.
Fortunately, the weather was kind, the bees were on their best behaviour and everything went more or less according to plan.
Thank you as always to the Hammond family for generously allowing us to park at their house and to use their meadow. Association members descending en-masse is quite an imposition and we really are most grateful to them for putting up with us all!
Richard, Gela, Phil, Denise, Phil and Zara.
Due to the number of attendees, members were asked to park in the village and walk up to the apiary. Thank you to those who helped with this but we’re sure you didn’t mind, the stroll up the lanes really is quite pleasant!
Gela and Richard
After an introduction from Louise, participants were divided into small groups. Louise, Denise, Tony and Howard each took a group and were assisted by Phil. Ailia took these wonderful photographs and made sure we all stuck to the timetable.
There was an introduction to swarm control with particular attention paid to the artificial swarm technique and making up a three frame nucleus. It’s a lot to take in, but those who tried the techniques demonstrated that they’d absorbed the information.
Should have brought my guitar; We look like the Von Trapps!
The feedback tells us some people are still not sure about swarm control. Take heart though, most people need time to understand these manipulations and usually, a few years of practice. So, if you feel you haven’t quite grasped it, don’t worry! That’s perfectly normal and they’ll always be plenty of help on hand from Meridian.
Debra’s excellent theoretical knowledge impressed our group; she’s clearly been doing her homework! Saturday was her first time with the bees and she seemed relaxed and soon got used to handling the frames.
Then on to the highlight of the day; each group went through a hive and identified capped honey, nectar, pollen, capped brood, healthy larvae and eggs. This was the perfect opportunity to practise frame-turning for real and to get up close and personal with the bees. The weather was near perfect for beekeeping; warm enough to ensure our bees were in good humour and not too hot to be in a suit!
There was an opportunity to try frame building and to see how to collect a swarm and a chance to enjoy a cup of tea with some delicious freshly-baked cakes from Louise. It really was very nice to put faces to names and meet-up for the very first time or the first time in ages!
This is why Meridian is renowned across Hampshire for understated elegance and sartorial panache.
For many participants, this was their first contact with bees and although some were understandably nervous, all handled the frames with confidence and were calm around the hives.
Thank you to everyone who has so far submitted feedback. We scored either 4 or 5 out of 5 and we’re very grateful for all your kind remarks; we’ll use your feedback to inform how the course and practical elements are delivered in future and if you haven’t yet submitted your feedback you can do so here.
The format of the course this year and the practical day were a COVID necessity. Many of the topics discussed would normally have been covered in more detail in the classroom and future practical days may not be exactly the same format.
If the practical day whetted your appetite, remember we have a programme of apiary meetings. These provide an excellent opportunity to learn new techniques and to discuss beekeeping issues with other local beekeepers.
Ailia took plenty more pictures on the day and these can be viewed via the family album.