2021 had its challenges with the pandemic but the bees were fortunately oblivious to this, and they had a very good year despite the cooler weather.
Last Autumn we had 100 colonies and although 20 didn’t make it to spring we currently have increased our colonies to 140. So far, after a very mild autumn, they look incredibly strong for the time of year.
Our honey harvest was up significantly over previous years, and we think this is due to the selection and breeding of our stock, improving our management methods and importantly the forage that is available to the bees. We have noticed an increase in the quantity and variety of flowers available to the bees over a longer period which is hugely helpful. Research has shown that well-nourished honeybees have improved immunity to disease. Kevin is involved with a group of Bee farmers through the Bee farmers Association who benchmark their bee’s performance and their methods to improve their productivity.
Our honeybees have been dealing with their own pandemic since 1992 when beekeepers introduced the Varroa mite to the UK. It seems that over time the bees are developing mechanisms to deal with the mites. Two years ago, we experimented by leaving 10 of our colonies without treatment to see if they could deal with the mites without our help. More than 2 years later while 3 of the 10 colonies have failed due to their new queens not mating, 7 have thrived so far. While they may not survive this winter it does tell us that the bees probably don’t need treating twice a year and may only need treatment once every 2 years. On this basis we have already moved to treating only once a year on all our colonies and will only treat half our colonies this year. We hope in time not to need to treat at all.
We have expanded the area in which we have apiaries into Essex and for the first time we moved bees to Borage. This has enabled us to launch an Essex honey and a Borage Honey which are proving to be popular.
Julie and Roxie added 5 new “flavors” of soap last year and soap has become our biggest selling product using our beeswax. We are now looking at shampoo bars, hand cream, wax melts, candles and producing our lip balm in aluminium containers. This will make all our packaging plastic free.
We are excited for 2022.
Thank you to all of our landlords and customers for helping us to breed healthy happy bees and to produce and stock our Honey.
If we can do anything to help please let Julie know on email@example.com or 07557 105495
Best wishes for the year ahead.
Kevin & Julie Thorn