Well, I did the course Getting the Bees Ready for Winter in Capparoe near Scarriff and I wore a bee suit! The spouse and I headed down to Co Clare last Saturday afternoon (18th September) and stayed in a B&B with the kitschest website I've ever seen. The next morning we were well fed by our host - delicious smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. After checking out we drove along beside Lough Derg and on to Scarriff. Irish Seed Savers is signposted and - as with many Irish roads - the signpost for the exact road is right on the corner instead of several yards ahead of it and brakes have to be slammed on, teeth have to be gritted as you skid past the turn, and gears have to be changed! The road to Capparoe is just one lane wide, so you need to be watching out for cars coming from the opposite direction.The spouse dropped me off in the carpark before heading off to Ballyvaughan (he had a good seafood chowder there, by the way) and the Cliffs of Moher.
Wellingtons on, Marigolds and packed lunch in my rucksack, and I was ready to get the bees ready. There were five of us doing the course. I was the only one not intending to keep bees. Three of the other participants were just starting out and the fourth was on a waiting list for hives. The first hour was spent indoors covering what bees do in the winter months and how to prepare the hives. Then it was time to get up close and personal with the bees. We put on our bee suits (which look like special hoodies) and headed out to where the hives stood in a sheltered area. Our instructor (herself a beekeeper) lit the smoker and opened the first hive. As she did, the smell of honey rose into the air, warm and rich. We were invited to help pull out the frames from the hives and to scrape off the propisol. We were also invited to taste it, so as soon as I thought it was safe, I unzipped the hood of my suit and put a piece of the propisol in my mouth. It tasted of wax initially, but after a while I could taste antiseptic (be warned - propisol stains skin and teeth yellow!).Then I had a go at lifting the frames. I dropped one but was more concerned about injuring or killing bees than being stung (I had full confidence in my bee suit). One of the course participants was stung - he wasn't wearing rubber gloves and the bees were able to sting the back of his hands through the cloth-backed gloves he was wearing.
Eventually we went back to the classroom for lunch. I'd brought sandwiches, but there were two choices of home-made soup for sale: beetroot and cauliflower cheese. I liked the look of the latter, but stuck with my own goodies. Much of the afternoon was spent preparing frames for the extraction of honey using a manual extractor. It tasted really good, very rich and potent. I left Capparoe very pleased with the workshop and pleased with myself for having achieved one of my goals 2010.
Bee Box - an update
The spouse has finished off the bee box started by the older offspring at the beginning of September (see blog of 14th September). That particular offspring is away so the spouse was not able to check what his intentions were. Nevertheless, it's looking good. It needs to be treated with linseed oil and packed with bamboo canes ready to put out in the garden next spring. I have trimmed a few more bamboo canes but still have more to do.
I wasn't sure how to hollow out the canes and so put up a query on the internet. On checking out one link, I found a query from a person who was looking to hollow out a cane so he could make a blowgun for a friend who was making a ninja suit!