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Wizardry in Kent (bee spellbound !)

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JCBrum 

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Gandalfwhitewizard, "The Bee Wizard of Kent" and his lovely partner Widdershins (beeware, she's bee-witching), were our hosts today at their lovely home apiary in Kent, for an introductory tuition session on queen rearing.

Gandalf had used his special magic to fix the weather, which despite fog on the M6 was perfect blue sky and puffy cu with sunshine in deepest Kent.

I set out at 06:30 hours after a heart-starting large coffee, and then regretted it for the next three and a half hours, wanting a er, "pit-stop".

Gandalf found me on his door-step, saying hello, and hopping from one foot to the other.

The other guests arrived and greetings were exchanged with pollyanwood and friend Graham (from London) and of course "The Archangel Frisbee".

Eight pages of closely typed notes and instructions were issued to each of us and we were told there would be an exam at lunchtime. I fainted. (but Fris resuscitated me, - shame, everyone else said)

We proceeded to "Gandalf's Lair" at the back of the allotments, to be joined by "Pete the Polytunnel", and viewed a double brood langstroth which Gandalf had prepared 4 days earlier with a queen excluder in between the boxes.

The purpose was to make the upper chamber receptive to JZBZ cups, and we were told they had to be in there for four hours for the bees to "polish" them, which certainly happened. They took on a shiny appearance due to a thin coating of wax I think.

The rest of the morning was spent visiting other hives searching for frames of brood with eggs and very small 'c' shaped grubs. We selected a couple of suitable frames and after shaking the bees off we wrapped them in damp tea-towels to prevent desiccation.

Time for lunch, we repaired to G & W's garden for picnic sandwiches etc brought with us. I must admit in fear of the exam I found it necessary to partake of a courage building gin and tonic (only to steady the hand for grafting, you understand) and polyanwood said "what a good idea, I'll join you.

We added tea and coffees all round from 'Widders' fair hand and had a convivial hours chat about everybody else on beekeeping forum :)

Following upon lunch (the G&T ploy seemed to have made 'em forget the exam) we returned to the apiary to carry out the grafting for real!

After we retrieved the beautifully 'polished' frame of cups, I then learned the "True Wizard's Secrets" of grafting. There are 3.

1. A headlamp with magnifier (see Gandalf's pics)

2. PeteThePolytunnel's bench. (salvaged from unappreciative previous owners) seen in G's pics.

3. A prayer mat for your knees. (to be used for invoking your chosen Deity. In my case - Bank's Brewers of Dudley, and in Fris's case, her 'Thornes Queen')

The trick (Gandalf's Magic) seems to be to identify very, very, small 'c' larvae, and to be able to see what you're doing well enough to pick them up and transfer them to the cups without changing the way they lie, or damaging them. We each had four or five go's, generally getting a bit better each time.

Following that excercise we then returned the 'loaded' frame to the same hive which 'polished' it.

An inspection after 4 and 10 days assesses the success rate.

Next we moved to an 'out apiary' where several apidea mini-nucs from previous sessions were proof positive of the success of "Gandalf's Magic".

We saw emerging queens, mated queens, and one cell where the queen didn't turn out perfectly and 'succumbed to nature'. I saved it for Bcrazy.

I have rarely had such an enjoyable day in such convivial company and say 'Thank-you' to Fris for setting it up for me and 'Wow - I wanna come again, -thank-you to Gandalf and Widdershins for their lovely hospitality.

Here's a couple of pics. JC.
 

Widdershins 

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Aww, thanks for that JC - it was lovely to meet you, and glad we all had a splendid day!!! ;)

So, who's up for next years 'jolly'??!!
 

ribblesbees 

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Ooh it sounds a brilliant fun day as well as a very instructive day. I could certainly be up for another 'jolly' if gandalfwhitewizard and widdershins are up for it.

bee-smillie
 

oliver90owner 

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Sounds like a grand day out that you all enjoyed.

Just one question. Where are all the pics of the piled-up roof racks and bulging boot loads and trailers full of goodies collected from the Thorne sale?

Regards, RAB
 

JCBrum 

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Who needs Thorne's sale ?

We're all closet carpenters ;)
 

JCBrum 

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A vision of loveliness actually Fris ,

p.s. (it's Gandalf, and he's not an old woman at all, he's "The Bee Wizard of Kent") ;)
 
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