Cambridgeshire BKA talk by ITLD

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Erichalfbee 

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Yes watch it. It really is worth it. There is a talk by Michael Palmer on December 15th too.
 

Hedgerow Honey 

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I watched Murray's talk to Cambridge BKA.
It was very good, the bits I managed to stay awake to watch anyhow.
3am starts all this week !!!!!.
 

Erichalfbee 

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I watched Murray's talk to Cambridge BKA.
It was very good, the bits I managed to stay awake to watch anyhow.
3am starts all this week !!!!!.
Yes he's a natural no matter what he says about engaging on Zoom. It was nice to see Jolanta too. I have two queens ordered. Can't wait to give them a whirl
 

elainemary 

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Yes he's a natural no matter what he says about engaging on Zoom. It was nice to see Jolanta too. I have two queens ordered. Can't wait to give them a whirl
Dani did you buy direct or via Black Mountain? Locally adapted Perthshire or Piedmont mated queens?
Curious to possibly try one of Jolantas because of their adaptation to heather moors and northern climate not too dissimilar to mine (more wind and rain for me!)
 

Erichalfbee 

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Dani did you buy direct or via Black Mountain? Locally adapted Perthshire or Piedmont mated queens?
Curious to possibly try one of Jolantas because of their adaptation to heather moors and northern climate not too dissimilar to mine (more wind and rain for me!)
Direct but that route isn't available any more. BMH will be selling them. There's a contact form for updates on availability
If you remember Murray's talk he did say they were perfectly adapted for UK wide too
 

Foxylad 

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I asked the question during the talk if he would be selling them direct. He said that the direct line would be closing, But previous customers contact him in the usual way. I purchased two queens from Jolanta last year. Would love to purchase more but direct. Without going though BMH.
 

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Erichalfbee 

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I asked the question during the talk if he would be selling them direct. He said that the direct line would be closing, But previous customers contact him in the usual way. I purchased two queens from Jolanta last year. Would love to purchase more but direct. Without going though BMH.
Then email jolanta but I wouldn’t stress. What would you be saving? A tenner?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Unfortunately a 'planned' electrickery outage which noone knew about scuppered any chance I had to listen in
 

elainemary 

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Regrettably I wasn't able to join in - can someone write a synopsis of the main points - or is there a way I could see/hear a recording ??
I always make a few notes on my phone whilst watching so I can re-read and reflect later. Notes only - it did run to over 2 hours! I was multi-tasking during part of it so some of the detail might be lost. Also as questions asked throughout Murray had to switch the order of his talk a lot & reflected in my notes. Here you go…

Murray McGregor CBKA Heather honey in Scotland Nov21


Murray had 4588 hives on the heather this year!

50 colonies for bee breeding & Jolanta raises 1200 Nucs per year

Very migratory set up. Most crucial decision is choosing a wintering site
Some wintering sites have 250 hives proven for good over wintering
Guidelines: Site where bees can get winter flight . Inside the hive must be dry, good air drainage ie top of hill better than bottom of hill. Not in a frost pocket or where damp. Good amount of spring pollen around. Alder and yew good spring pollen. Means bees that over winter well start spring well

Works on 4 supers per hive

Bottom bee space hive needs more cleaning 40% more work vs top bee space, prefers top bee space

3% protein in ling vs 0.1% in regular honey which is responsible for thixotropic nature of heather honey


Heather honey extraction - Warm room & agitate thixotropic honey, takes 30mins before becomes thixotropic again so need to extract quickly after agitating


100-120 tonnes of heather honey pa
Have to have a tangential extractor with swinging baskets, a radial doesn’t have enough force to spin it out properly

Uses a version of Demaree for swarm control. Uses modified crownboard to let bees fly from split on the back. Leaves just one queen cell after a week, removes the rest. Or can use a queen cell from queen rearing. Bottom half produces the honey. Top half makes new queen.
Bring both through to July and when bottom one gets too big double brood it. Applies to top too. Can split top box off if want increase or if old queen v good and want to keep her she can go into a Nuc.
Or can reunite, if in a flow take split board away as busy ness stops fighting. Or uses air freshener. Doesn’t use newspaper. Let’s bees decide which queen to keep! 80% colonies have the young queen and 15% have old queen and 5% have both queens in the spring


Averages 28 kilos heather honey pa per colony

80% of production is heather
103 heather sites 20-90 hives on each site. 4 distinct microclimates to spread risk of crop failure. Wind off the sea can stop heather flow. Start of august to first 10 days is peak production, bees have short working life on moors. Lose a lot of bees on the moors to spiders! Always make mistake of putting too many boxes , bees fill in downwards in boxes as brood emerges
Start harvesting around 10 September
Choose site in a bowl and heather all around. Ruthless re records and choosing right site

Always leaves foundation hanging short.
Uses straight wires embedded into frames then hot wires wax (foundation goes into groove)

Puts straw onto feeder, no dividers or barriers and run up into straw and clean out the syrup. Also combine with drawing foundation, takes out old comb and adds foundation

All sales in barrels none in jars, keeps
Operation simple. Retail Customers a distraction, takes too much time re deliveries etc!

Sells all wax to candlemakers 4-5 tonnes pa

Big believer in genetic diversity,
Resilience comes through diversity not through narrow line breeding
Have wide gene pool to select from

Best mother queens sent to Italy always sold as Piedmonte raised queens

Perthshire queen rearing, local and do well in Uk. Black mountain honey reviews
Technique for retaining breeder queen remove from full hives to nuclei. Kept to 3 frames brood. Take brood out and allowed to grow in July only so enough bees in nucleus to over winter.

All frames stored wet

Any colony with even one cell EFB gets culled. Contact colonies shook swarmed
15% autumn cull and winter losses includes drone layers or queenless in spring. Shake out.

Check Murray’s Twitter feed

Bees are resilient will survive in spite of us.

Concept of pace - what do you have to see vs nice to see. Can work colonies at greater speed. If no queen cells in central brood area won’t find it, can save time by learning to scan rather than detail
Find queens by scanning

Mark and clips all queens, delays a departure of swarms until virgins emerge

Swarming. Measure of healthy bees. Have to distinguish between swarmy bees and reached capacity and swarms. Beekeeper fault. Biggest issue is weather that prevents inspections so don’t inspect for 12 days

Always top supers

Jar of honey per colony for payment to landowners

Even comb honey is traded not sold direct. Have contracts and sold 10 years ahead.

Over winters on single brood not double brood or brood and half. 8-10 seams bees


Wooden hives tougher than poly but uses both

Fondant commercially is 3x more expensive than syrup

CBPV not significant in his operation.

Polystyrene feeder on top of every wooden hive - acts as insulation but doesn’t use insulation boards at all

Jolanta queens through Black mountain honey

Kieler mating box - more stores vs Apidea

Hives from heather get 3 gallons syrup. only honey and pollen brood box is left for the bees. Don’t feed pollen. Not an issue in his locations re pollen shortage

Uses queen excluders til mid June. Want big numbers of flying bees Aug so double deep the hives mid June. Queen excluders do cut the honey crop and increase swarming. So come off mid June when finding queen less critical

Biggest future challenge is keeping costs low and keeping business simple. Family owned and next generation will take over. Doesn’t take holidays and won’t retire. Have to have passion and love for bees to be successful commercially, plus good team
 

elainemary 

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Direct but that route isn't available any more. BMH will be selling them. There's a contact form for updates on availability
If you remember Murray's talk he did say they were perfectly adapted for UK wide too
Thanks, I’ve posted some notes I took on his talk
 

Foxylad 

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Then email jolanta but I wouldn’t stress. What would you be saving? A tenner?
Maybe, but still a saving for the same queens. Also they get posted twice, once to BMH then on to the customer.
Why not ship direct?
Why deal with the middle man?
Not sure why Murray doesnt sell direct when producing so my queens. If we need to stop relying on imports, why not supply what we need.
 

Gunner 

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Do we know if Murray’s talk will also be available on YouTube? Gutted I missed it.

Please ignore as just seen the other thread specifically about ITLDs talk.
 
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elainemary 

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Thanks all. Think Sally does a great job at CBKA. What I didn’t mention was I was away in Devon at the time and persuaded v understanding husband it was essential I watched it whilst having dinner in our hotel. So I was donned with apple ear pods, ipad and iPhone whilst being seated and ordering. A few odd looks from other diners. That’s what comes with obsession. 🤣👀
 

Erichalfbee 

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Maybe, but still a saving for the same queens. Also they get posted twice, once to BMH then on to the customer.
Why not ship direct?
Why deal with the middle man?
Not sure why Murray doesnt sell direct when producing so my queens. If we need to stop relying on imports, why not supply what we need.
I should imagine it's about streamlining the business for efficiency....just like anybody else would. Why fulfil an order book of single and double batches of queens when you can ship a hundred at a time. It makes sense that way. It's a big organisation.
 

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