It has been a very weird season: first March was hot and dry which encouraged the bees to expand in numbers. Then it was wet in April which meant that the bees were all shut inside the hives, having to eat thier way through thier honey stores and develop a strong desire to swarm as they were all crammed in together, (and swarm they did!). May then allowed them to get back to normal and go about thier business of gathering nectar and making honey but the stores are still much lower than they would normally be at this time.
We live in rural south Oxfordshire where oilseed rape is a major crop. This means that we normally do a spring harvest to take off the rape honey as soon as the yellow fades from the fields and to ensure we take it before it sets in the comb. But its been wet again and for the last two weekends we have checked the honey levels and found that most of the frames are still only 80% full and only partially capped. This weekend we found signs that the rape honey is already beginning to set in some of the frames, even if they are only half full. Not good. We will plan to take the honey this week whether it is capped or not. Any suggestions welcome.
Oh, nearly forgot: this picture shows our new polystyrene hive which we got from Paynes Southdown Bee Farm. Its is about 60% of the cost of a wooden one so we thought we would give it a try.