Looking back I never thought I would end up wanting to keep honey bees. After all, a desert island with an arid climate doesn’t sound like the most suitable habitat. We’ve always had the dwarf honey bees nesting among our Bougainvillea and trees for many years and a fallen hive from a tree in the garden sparked my interest into the possibility of keeping bees. Finding out more on the subject of beekeeping, I’ve relied heavily on information gather across the internet and over the course of months, watched many you tube videos, went on beekeeping forums and read information posted on beekeeping blogs. Bought a few bee related books and learned as much as I could. So when the opportunity came about and I received a small colony of bees (called a nucleus), I felt somewhat ready. I even assembled the flat packed beehive I ordered online, although hubby had to rescue a few nails that went in the wrong direction. I’ve even got a tool box now.
Franke was there to help me through my first few months of beekeeping but as he is not residing in Bahrain, found myself having to jump in at the deep end on a few occasions… one was catching a swarm of bees two and a half months into beekeeping, something I was not expecting so soon. Thankfully it ended well and I had a spare beehive to house them in.
A year later and delighted to report, the bees are still around… but I also know my second year could pan out differently. Colony collapse disorder, climate changes, our extremely hot summer, pesticides, lack of foraging, bees absconding, diseases and damage to our eco system threaten bees and other pollinators worldwide.
Following the beekeeping guidelines in the book “Bee Keeping for Dummies”, our climate is similar to zone D in the United States, high temperatures throughout the summer with mild winters. I have found the calendar guidelines helpful as a reference to the activities I should consider when inspecting the hive during the course of the year. Also, keeping a beekeeping diary has helped and now I have notes to compare on the inspections and observations made last year.
January… it seems the bees have enough stores of honey (fingers crossed) and I’ve noticed plenty of pollen going into the hives. The beekeeping calendar suggests to feed a colony if low on stores. Yes, beekeepers do feed bee colonies sugar syrup (or their own honey) at times and if you would like to know more on this subject read Honey Bee Suite, why feed sugar syrup to honey bees. The colony is expanding and with lots of baby bees to feed and care for, honey supplies can dwindle fast.
Our weather gets fairly nippy this time of year but not cold enough for the bees not to fly. Last year I noticed more dead bees in the yard during this time of year and referring back to my notes… no need to panic this year. I also like to take note of seasonal changes following the Arabic lunar calendar as this may affect how the colony of bees behave. From January 15th to the 9th of February (26 days) is referred to as, Al Sha-Bath (phonetic spelling), bringing wet and cold days to the region. And if rain comes, it could simple be a few drizzles or a huge downpour, so good to have a few protective covers on hand to place over the hives if needed.
And yes, I have managed to harvest some delicious raw honey last year, not a huge amount but enough to satisfy a hobbits beekeeper. I really love having these fascinating pollinators around and the more I delve into the life of the honey bee the more captivating they become. Each month I plan to do a blog post on my new found hobby, lets hope the bees stick around too 🙂