Monday, 20 November 2017

Another Successful Bee Workshop

A group of eleven beginner bee keepers joined us yesterday for a full day of bee keeping fun. We were so lucky to have a perfect sunny day in the high 20's, after almost a week of rain and drizzly overcast days.
One of the projects was removing a wild swarm of bees from a wine barrel and placing them into a brood bee box. It began with very noisy electric sawing of the barrel into halves, and cranky bees flying everywhere within twenty metres.
I had loaned out my bee suit, so I wasn't going too close to the action, and thank goodness for zoom on the iPhone.
Every year we get calls from folks asking us to remove bees which have made their home inside a wine barrel. Once again I'll issue advice to any who have an empty wine barrel as a decoration or functional object near your home. Unless you want bees to move into it, resulting in either (a) the destruction of your wine barrel to remove the bees, or (b) the destruction of the bees to save your wine barrel, please bung up the hole so the bees can't get in.
During spring swarming season bees will be looking for any little hole to make their new home, and a lovely roomy and dark wine barrel is perfect.
With this workshop coming up, we collected the barrel containing the bees and brought it home so we could perform the task while showing the attendees how it's done and to utilize the help of a willing few. Brian was able to make a clean cut around the barrel, to create two planter pots which we will return to the owner this week.

Frame making and learning the merits of different types of foundation is an important aspect of bee-keeping. We moved the table and equipment outside so we could all enjoy the cool of the shady willow tree, rather than swelter inside the "Honey Shed".

 Plenty of networking and making new friends during the lunch and morning tea breaks.
The food was well received, and as usual, I over catered. No surprises there!
I finished up making pasties, sausage rolls, a big quiche, and sandwiches for lunch.
Morning tea was macaroon jam slice, pumpkin fruit cake and Anzac biscuits.
Home made lemon cordial was on offer as well as water, teas and plungers of coffee, and a big bowl of fruit.
A short garden tour where the folks were interested to hear Brian speak about our organic and bio-dynamic methods of managing the farm and gardens.
I think perhaps another workshop  about gardening and bio-dynamics will be next on our list of things we can share with other interested people. There is certainly lots of interest there.
There was much interest in Brian's non toxic mildew spray that he makes from She-oak needles, so I'll get the correct recipe from him and post it in my next blog.

During the few hours that people were suited in protective gear and actively involved with bees flying about, I noticed they gradually moved from the outer edges and closer towards the action. It's a strange feeling for a new bee-keeper to be surrounded by bees, and it's at that point that we discover if we want to continue with the craft or not.

The weather was perfect for taking some honey from a few full frames that were found during the inspection of the seven hives here at our home block.
Here Danielle discovers that Brian's job of cutting off the cappings with the hot knife is not quite as easy as he makes it look.
Thank you to each and every one of you who attended and made it the successful day that it was.
Hosting a workshop requires a lot of planning and many hours of preparation, but we both enjoy the day spent with a new bunch of people.
Don't ask us how tired we feel at the end of that day though. A beer for Brian and a glass or two of bubbles for me was enjoyed with dinner of leftover lunch food, and early to bed.



  1. Sally you already have the makings of a simple living group in your area. A swarm of bees has found the old bee hives my husband has in the backyard. They are right beside a path so I hope they move on soon. I have to run the gauntlet every time I pass by.

    1. Chel I suspect the bees have made their new home in the old bee hives, as they prefer to go where there is already a scent of wax so there's very little chance they will move on now. Sounds like you'll need to contact a bee keeper in your area to remove them for you.

  2. Sally I wrote a comment earlier this afternoon but my internet connection dropped out when I went to publish it! The work shop looks great. I await the she-oak recipe with much interest.

    1. The most annoying thing isn't it Sherri? Thanks for not giving up totally. :) XX

  3. How fascinating. I remember well the smell of bee wax as a young boy when my father and brothers robbed our hives.

  4. Whenever I do a sourdough workshop, at another location, it takes a while to prep for as well. After much busy activity and friendly conversation afterwards, I come home and put my feet up. It's nice too. Although my drink of choice, is a mocha, made on decafe. ;)

  5. I think it's wonderful that people want to learn about bees and beekeeping. I don't have honeybee hives but I have a native bee hive and that is an endless source of fascination for me. There's so much to learn so having someone, like you and Brian, to pass on your knowledge and skills, is really important! Exhausted you may be but you must be so pleased to be able to offer such worthwhile workshops. Meg:)


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