A brief summary of 2023 thus far

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Well, dear reader, it's been another interesting season thus far...

A cold winter led to much additional fondant feeding in the early spring, leading to a strong spring flow on the oilseed, there followed 9 weeks of poor weather in June and July that really held back the development of the many nucs I made from the spring splits - a learning there to feed more than I did and continue even when into larger hives. This wasn't helped by the 100+ nucs spread over a fair few apiary sites. Another learning for 2024 - all nucs will be combined to one site for ease of management.

The much-planned expansion was delayed and delayed due to trouble finding a willing transport company to relocate a 40' welfare unit to Wiltshire. This finally happened in July and not a moment too late as it was soon pressed into service for the August extraction (which is still ongoing I hasten to add)

A last minute decision saw 40+ colonies down to the Heather in the New Forest and a healthy crop from 90% of them was a welcome fillip to the year. They all returned with far heavier brood boxes and bees thriving from the pollen. These have all been deployed to new apiaries as part of the Solar Farm Expansion project which got signed off earlier in the year.

The season has been a busy one with lots to do and not enough time to do exactly want I wanted all of the time for the bees - as I have also stepped up my participation in a number of local farmers' markets and other events to retail the honey.

However, this has been largely successful and while I have the busy Christmas season ahead of me, I am now looking to 2024 where I'll see a further expansion in hive numbers and probably the need to recruit a willing employee for part of the season too.

Some things I've learned :

1. Give food festivals that charge the public for entry a miss - they are already down £30+ for a family before they have even bought an ice cream and coffee. That impacts what they will spend with the stall holders !

2. Buy sugar when you have the cash to as the price is only going one way - up

3. Buy equipment and glass jars when you have the cash to as ditto above !

4. You can make a trailer bed last just a little longer before it needs overhauling this winter...

5. Having lights that work on said trailer are a bonus

6. I am a beekeeper therefore I work hard NOT to be stung by bees. However wasps have been a menace this summer and I've lost count of the stings from them

7. Rainy days are good days for making up equipment or doing one's accounts or sleeping

8. The public are still so much in the dark about honey and honey fraud and farming practices. Scarily so....

9. If you create space or install a mezzanine for storage in your barn, you will find stuff to fill it with

10. Just when you think the season has fallen on it's knees, the sun finally comes out and the nectar starts flowing again !