I’ve made contact with a local beekeeper. He’s a really nice and helpful chap, with tons of experience! It’s recommended that when you start out you network with local beekeepers where possible.
Not great news
I don’t know about you, but I get excited with new projects and have an overly optimistic feeling about them. But the other side of me always has doubts, and in what appears to be a self-fulfilling negative confirmation bias, I have had some news.
The good, the bad and the ugly
As you will have picked up, I’m really pleased that the Kintyre region is so rich in an abundance of flora as it means the honey will be absolutely delicious! That’s a massive plus!
On the downside, after talking to a local beekeeper, I’ve found the last few years of honey harvest have been, err, less than optimal.
There are three things I learned:
- There’s a real mix of genetics in the area that include some hybridisation of Black bees and Italian. I’ve read that Italian bees are gentle and as the Black bees are hardy, it sounds promising.
- The weather. Over the last few years, a combination of higher than normal winds and higher than normal precipitation has been an issue for bees. In effect there’s been a shorter season so they have been less able to forage which also means their ability to build enough food stores for themselves has been diminished, or at least at risk. The net effect anyway is that there’s been less surplus to harvest.
- It’s been confirmed that Varroa mite is present, much to the chagrin of all. However, that was noted on Beebase in any case, and it’s not the end of the world as Varroa has been endemic in Western Europe since at least 2019. It’s a case of finding a palatable treatment that works and the good news is that there are plenty out there.
The weather is something I can’t control so I am only going to be able to change what I can in the locality of the hive. That is, make sure the hive is sheltered from the wind and likewise to their water source. We’re also going to do our best to provide a plentiful food source very close to the hive. Thankfully our neighbours are green fingered, and their gardens are nearly always bursting with life.
As for Varroa, well, treatments are plentiful. Many have no residue or impact on honey production, whereas some obviously do. I just need to use the correct treatments at the correct seasonal times to enable the best possibility of a healthy hive and good, consumable honey. No problem.
Summary: The main issue, it seems, will be the seasonal weather and how that affects the foraging ability of the honey bees and therefore, the honey harvest.