Its been a very busy spring so far... so fast its nearly over! Almost every hive has been split and most have been requeened with breeder queen cells. In general most of our sites are going reasonably well and despite the splits, bee numbers are satisfactory. There has been particularly good spring nectar flows in and around Hamilton so that's great.
Hive numbers are now back to our standard 250 colonies and we have also made up an additional 100 colonies for a new beekeeping business. Not bad considering this is a part-time job!
We've started putting on supers (honey boxes) at all our sites and are seeing some good flows coming on. One beekeeper who I spoke to last week had already started extracting honey! It looks like our Marokopa site will have the Rewarewa trees flowering in the next few weeks, and this is a very nice honey. At Horsham Downs its been great to see first the gorse (sorry we beekeepers love the gorse!), then willow, then barberry and hawthorn, cabbage trees and now the first signs of clover coming through. We've had some excellent quality pollen collection.
The word is that its likely to be a short fast season with a dreaded drought coming through quickly in early summer. I know there are many worried farmers and it will certainly have an impact on honey collection if it goes dry too quickly.
Wherever I go there is always such an interest in bees and beekeeping and there are always plenty of questions. It seems many people are fascinated by these little creatures and certainly I am as well! A lot of people are keen to have a hive in their back yard or already have one or two or three, yes, they soon start multiplying! Its a very relaxing hobby and one or two hives can produce more than enough for a family, so if you are keen and have the space give it a go. I'm a third generation beekeeper, with my dad and his dad keeping bees as a hobby. Its a nice connection that I hope my two boys might have the chance to take up later on.
If you are interesting in hives in your back yard contact your local beekeeper hobbyist club. Here are some that we know about:
Waikato Hobby Beekeeping Club
Auckland Beekeepers Club
Whangarei Beekeeping Club
Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeeping Club