I’ve joined in with the EFBKA’s (Epping Forest Beekeepers Association) ‘Queen Rearing Study Group’ which held its initial meeting last night.
Organised by our divisional Chairman, Ted Gradosielski, and held at his impressive bee shed at Nazeing (an understatement if ever I’ve made one), the purpose of the group is to practice and measure the success of a range of different queen bee rearing methods.
Queen bees will live for up to 5-years and shortly after hatching will mate with a number of male bees (drones) during what is called their mating flight. The mating process is fatal to the drones who fall to earth dead having had their reproductive parts detached from them during the mate (ouch!). The queen retains his store of sperm (and that of the other 5 to 10 or so drones she mates with) and releases the them gradually throughout her life to fertilise her female worker bee eggs. She also lays unfertilised eggs which develop into drones.
Anyway, being the mother of every newborn bee in a colony (and at her peak she’ll be laying up to about 2,000 eggs a day) all the bees will take on her characteristics (as well as the drones she mates with). Apart from the replacement of old or dead queens, beekeepers breed and select queens to help develop particular “good” characteristics in their bees. Each beekeeper would place a different value on each characteristic, but the list might include having a good temperament, be prolific foragers, being a consistent and rapid egg layer, having a high disease resistance, be particularly hygienic and a low producer of propolis. There are probably other characteristics too, and I’ve no doubt that each beekeeper would order them differently according to their beekeeping involvement.
My role in the group is to record some of the activities and processes on video and to take stills. This will be used to create some literature and other resources to help educate other beekeepers in the division – plus you’ll also be able to see some of the outcomes of our labour here on Beemovies.net
Welcome to www.beemovies.net and my first ever blog on here.
Just in case you’ve not read the about info, this website is here to record and share my beekeeping experiences. I’m in no way holding myself up as some kind of expert. Far from it! The world of beekeeping is so varied and complex, with many areas of specialisation, that I doubt there is anyone who would claim to know it all.
My wife (Tiffany) and I have been keeping bees for about 6-years and belong to Epping Forest Beekeepers. (EFBKA) This is a local division of Essex Beekeepers (EBKA), which itself is a regional division of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA). The drive and purpose of these organisations is to further the craft of beekeeping and the welfare of the honey bee.
If you are thinking of taking up beekeeping in the UK I strongly recommend you find out about your local beekeeping association and join it before going any further. Whilst beekeeping can be a relatively low-maintenance pastime and easy to get into, you will be responsible for the well-being of living creatures that play a vital role in our lives. And as your bees will become part of the wider bee population you will also play a part in maintaining the general health and welfare of our entire bee population.
If you live somewhere where there are no local beekeeping associations then you should contact your nearest beekeeper and see if they would be willing to show you the ropes. The vast majority of beekeepers that I have come across are only too happy to help expand the responsible beekeeping community. If you are going to be keeping your bees nearby to them they’ll also have a vested interest in helping you to do things properly.
As well a documenting our beekeeping season I also intend to start putting together some short films about honey bees, beekeeping and beekeepers themselves. These are not aimed at the seasoned beekeeper (though I hope they find them entertaining and interesting) but rather the newbie, beginner and maybe intermediate beekeeper. I found I struggled with some of the basic concepts at first (and still do from time to time) and I hope this serves as both an aid for those learning and as a reminder to me on how things should be done.
Anyway – that probably gives you the bigger picture of what this website is about. Please feel free to register and post questions. I will do my best to answer these or find the answers for you. I’m also open to suggestions on film content – so please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, here’s some slo-mo footage of the bees I took a while ago.
Honey Bees in slow motion from Kevin Cook on Vimeo.