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BEE CLUB DIARY BLOG 3

[if you're checking this out on a mobile device then the pics are  right at the bottom, so to see them scroll down to the end]

6th August - Quiet for Summer Holidays

                        Observation Hive Gets a Clean-Out 

Again, it's a while since posting, the process of inspections continuing during the Summer Holidays. Soon, hopefully we'll be doing small groups of family for holiday inspections. I certainly need the help! In the meantime, it was the observation hive that sorely needed attention. It's been a year and two queens since it was last opened. They've been so successful and it has been the first Winter that we'd managed to keep them alive since it was set up. They did swarm in June and that colony (6) thrives in the apiary currently. But the frames were now old, and despite the occasional ventilation signs of ‘chalk brood’ (a fungal infection of the brood digestive system) and possibly wax moth had been seen. The set up was important with Mr Jessop and I laying out all the requirements on the play-area tables underneath the hive entranceway. As we can’t open the hive in the classroom we rely on the majority of the bees knowing where the entrance is so they will either stay with the colony and queen or revert to returning to the entrance and as such lose as few of the bees as possible. Releasing the hive from it’s mounting is a fraught affair to say the least. I hold the disconnected frame and move it away whilst Mr Jessop quickly and simultaneously blocks both ends of the entrance way with blobs of Blu Tack. Then I carefully carry it down to the tables, trying not to trip up down the stairs or over any of the Early-year’s Classroom equipment. On the table we opened it up.  By good fortune, we spotted the queen straight away, cage and mark her blue. I then placed her, still caged, in the bottom of a nuc box placed there. They were remarkably calm and remained, for the most part, on their frames. We carefully cut the frames (two brood frames) from the free comb that joined them together and placed the frames in the nuc box with the queen, placing a cover-cloth over the top. Now we set about cleaning the hive. Once cleaned we popped in the single brood frame, and two super frames. Sadly, only the super frames were ‘drawn’ out with comb as we were short of a drawn brood frame so it just had foundation. We took out the Blu Tack from the hive entrance at the bottom and replaced it with a glob of sugar fondant. Then we carefully shook both the frames of workers (and a few drones) onto the new frames. Once the majority of these were in place, we released the queen back into her colony and closed the hive. Clearing as many bees from the hive as possible we then carried it back up to the Year 3/4 classroom and with a small puff of smoke popped the Blu Tack off the pipe top and slid the hive back onto it as quickly as possible. Then we fixed it back to the mounting. The entrance pipe displaced the fondant and the external bees, that had gathered around the wall entrance, poured into the hive, making short work of the fondant. Fingers crossed, we hope they will establish some healthy brood in the coming weeks to last out the Winter. Phew, we'll be feeding them daily over the coming days. Looking forward to Bee Club inspections over the next month and into the new term.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

14th July - Back After COVID-19 Break!

                          First Bee Club Inspestions for a While

Such a long time since I posted on this BLOG! New developments include the doubling of the Apiary size, two new stands and two new colonies! Colony 5, the one found in the bee club shed. And colony 6 (the swarm from the Observation Hive that's exploded in size). That queen couldn't wait to get out.

Today though was very special. Three groups of three  young beekeepers, staying within their Covid-19 'bubbles' and separate suits, managed to inspect a hive each. All were thrilled and we found some interesting discoveries. Now seeing whether we can organise some Summer Holiday sessions.

21st May - Forth Series of Inspections of the Season -

                          Queen and health checking

Mr Jessop and I (once again, maintaining good safe social distancing) with some able (home grown assistants) have had a series of inspections in May. The Observation Hive is still doing very well and the queen is still laying healthy brood with a possible queen cup developing, so we may have to disconnect it and manage the numbers a bit there. The price of success! . Also, a swarm had made its home in an old brood box that was awaiting cleaning, in the Bee Club shed. A quick transfer to our nuc box, with its green queen, was done and they all popped in. It's beeing tended to at my home apiary at present. In a few weeks it'll be back as Colony 5 . The rest of the colonies (see below) have had there ups and downs but progress that season is good.

Colony One - Their numbers have been rising and the queen is an epic layer, so we've be able to establish a full size brood box on the top of the 'super' brood. As they draw out the comb, the queen will move up to the new brood box and they will establish the main brood area on the fresh comb. once that's happened, hopefully in the next few weeks, we'll remove the old 'super' brood frames and box.

Colony Two -  Early on in the month, it became clear that they had lost there old queen, with no eggs, not necessarily to swarming, as there was an emergency queen cell in the brood. Yesterday, however, still with good numbers of workers, we sighted the new queen. She hadn't started laying yet, and we can't be sure she'd completed her mating flight, but she was very much at home on the frames. 

Colony Three Still in the most numbers of workers for the all four colonies, this colony's queen had disappeared too. No visible queen cells, so we supplied two, found in colony 4. These have subsequently hatched out of their pupa state. On the second to last brood frame, inspected yesterday, we found the victor of the two new queens, prancing around her workers. Again, like in colony 2, we had no way of knowing whether she'd completed her mating flight. So we left her unmarked.

Colony Four -  The queen was once again missing from this colony. However, with the copious numbers of queen cells in this brood box, we could say with reasonable confidence that they had swarmed. This was our 'drain' swarm from last year so she was a 'flighty' queen. We would have somehow missed the impending queen cups from the previous inspections. She had left a good number of workers and brood to tide them over, and we whittled down the number of queen cells to a manageable two. We used two of them to give colony 3 a fighting chance of recovering a new queen too! Once again, yesterday, our queen spotting was on form and we made it four out of four queens sighted here, with colony 4's new queen being on just the second frame inspected. Our aim is to check that the three new queens are laying fresh brood within the next few weeks.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

21st April - Third Inspection of the Season -

                          Swarm and Health checking

Mr Jessop and I (once again, maintaining good safe social distancing) had a third look at the School Bees again on Tuesday. The  Observation Hive  is still doing very well and the queen is still laying healthy brood. Once again there is a video of the main School Apiary inspection, so to see it just click here

Colony One - Now in it's more cosy state of a small brood area (super) is doing well, the queen is still present (seen) and laying well. Their numbers are rising and hopefully we'll be able to establish a full size brood box soon.

Colony Two -  This colony has been building in numbers as well and was numerous enough with workers to warrant a super box on top with super frames. The queen was seen and was laying. Some drones were present but no positive signs of queen cups or cells.

Colony ThreeStill doing the best of all. There were a full ten frames of bees and lots of brood. Queen was  found, for the firstime and marked green, as she was last year's queen. and there were eggs in many places and only a couple of queen cups which we squished. The super - was also filling with bees. This colony had a good number of drones and drone cells, so we need to watch in carefully for potential varroa build up. Varroa concentrate on the drones as they spend longer in pupa state, allowing more to breed on them in the cells and also the drones will visit all the hives making drones good transport for the varroa.

Colony Four -  The queen was spotted again here as well, laying eggs and establishing good healthy worker and drone brood. The numbers of workers in this colony also justified the addition of a super box and frames, for honey-making, being placed on this colony. No signs of disease or mites in this colony either.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

11th April - Second Inspection of the Season - bee's needs

Mr Jessop and I (as usual, maintaining good safe social distancing) had a second look at the School Bees again on Saturday. The Observation Hive is doing very well and the queen is still laying and healthy.

Colony One - A once large colony was disappointingly low on numbers. It was a brood box and a half but now seemed only to be the half. We removed the main brood box, having found the queen, and have popped an old super with a small amount of stores on the top. Hopefully the problem was with the lower brood box and they will recover soon

Colony Two -  This colony has been the subject of robbing, varroa and other problems in the past but has bravely soldiered on. It has a healthy brood now and green queen and some space. We gave it some new full brood frames to replace some super frames placed in the brood box to develop drone brood for varroa inspections. There seems to be little evidence of varroa so the fresh frames will help them develop some  more workers. Not much in the way of stores, however we gave it some fondant as a boost.

Colony ThreeDoing the best of all. There were a full ten frames of bees and lots of brood. Queen was not seen however there were eggs in many places and no queen cups/cells anywhere. We popped a super - from our honey-making last September. This colony should be our best chance of early honey. 

Colony FourThere's a similarity to colony three with this one. Less numerous than three but good signs of development. Again, quite promising but not yet ready for a super box to be added yet.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

27th March - First Inspection of the Season - video

Mr Jessop and I maintained good safe social distancing throughout the session, but we did video the session for the Bee Club members on their GOOGLE Classroom. Great to see all four colonies thriving after the Winter.  Video Here

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

Regretfully, due to covid-19 containment measures, the bee club will be suspended for the season. This is heartbreaking for some of the memebers who were dearly looking forward to the coming season and even some attempting to achieve their BBKA junior beekeeping certificates. As these members are off to secondary schools in september. As such i pledge to finish their season off in 2021 if suitable schedules can be found.

The virus Shall not stop us!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

17th March - Feed and Clean Day - To be the last

A brilliant job by our own two lead beekeepers in feeding the colonies in the apiary. The rest of the team did some well needed cleaning out of the bee-shed in preparation for the season to come.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

10th March - Special Guest - Julia of Bee Ed

Once again we're privilliged to have a visit from Julia one of the most knowledge beekeepres in the area and aone of the area inspectors. She was supervising revision of hive inspection, led by the experienced student teachers. All ready for when it’s sunny again and we can do our actual hive inspections!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

4th February - Feed the Bees - Cold Snap Coming

Today was a lovely sunny day and, although the temperature was cool, there was a very light wind, so the bees were out. A good day to see the bees and feed them in preparation for the next week's stormy Winter snap. Great to get out of the classroom for a time and confirm all colonies are still going strong.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

14th January - First Bee Club of 2020 - Lots Plans

Today was a welcome back day with the plans for the new term. Frames to make, lots to learn and pretend 'dry' hive inspections. Today though we re-sized the bee suits for everyone and looked at the observation hive colony, which has survived the Winter so far. We even spotted the Queen. Lots of plans and projects to start next week.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

3rd December - Waggle Dancing - Last Club of the Year

Today was the last Bee Club of the calendar year so it was to the school hall for an especially energetic indoor session. The Beekeepers learned all about the wonders of the WAGGLE DANCE, which is the way bees don't just find food, but also how they find a new home for the swarm. After learning, and some small cakes for energy, they placed flowers (pictures) around the hall and one 'bee' had to do a waggle dance on the comb (screen) so that the other workers could find the flowers. A fun day but sad as the last day until 14th January, when it begins in the New Year. Merry Christmas beekeepers everywhere!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

26th November - Special Guest - Jacqui of Heron Hill

Jacqui, our most special friend from Heron Hill was the guest Bee Club overseer today. What a lovely twist to beeswax usage that she taught everyone; wax seals, fun and historical too! Thank you so much Jacqui for another fun appearance for our Bee Club. Fear not, they still were treated to Mrs B's flapjacks.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

19th November - Special Guest - Julia of Bee Ed

Julia, the most prolific Beekeeping educator in the area, very kindly helped out in my absence today. There was a day of microscopes and bee bodies everywhere. The Bee Club are all now experts on bee anatomy. Thank you so much Julia. Another guest expert next week. Fear not, they still were treated to Mrs B's cakes.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

12th November - Honey Show & Christmas Candles 

A busy day today preparing the school 'show' honey for the K&SWBKA HONEY SHOW this evening. Also finishing up the last of the Christmas candles for the Bee Club beekeepers to take home for the festive season. They have done particularly well this year. We came a worthy SECOND PRIZE in the honey show this evening. We shall have to work on a little more attention to detail to pip Heron Hill next year in the schools category. Well done all nonetheless. Some beautiful candles too!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

5th November - Wrap Making - Guest Instructor 

What a great day we had today, with HUGE thanks to HAYLEYour guest instructor, here to teach us all how to do wax wraps, to replace the plastic food coverings in the kitchen at home. The young beekeepers had a wonderful, if a little messy, time cutting fun-patterned material, mixing the resin, jojoba oil and of course, beeswax to melt down and paint onto the material. Each member went home with their own choice of wrap pattern. They'll last for years!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

18th October - Winter Coat - Observation Colony

We've never had the observation hive colony looking so healthy prior to the Winter season. So we've given it a warming coat to help them keep the core temperature up through the cold months in the hope that they can make it through to the Spring when the Queen can start the process of laying again. Good luck Obs colony!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

15th October - Wax Moulding - First Candles

Much beeswax was melted today. I think, with breaking it up for the melting pots, more ended up on the classroom floor than in the moulds! However after a quick brief on how bees make beeswax, and its historical value in history, we launched into melting and pouring into moulds. We had two types of mould today, a deem silicon candle one and a snowflake set of two patterns that will make lovely flat candles or even Christmas tree decorations. The Club members did well, with minimal spillage, and despite a very slow hardening rate (hot kitchen), we did reveal a few finished wax items. More next Bee Club as well as wraps and a guest instructor. Can't wait .. even if it is three weeks!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

14th October - Wax Making - Lots Mess

Wax making involves a lot of mess, hot stuff and time. So in preparation for this coming Bee Club Mrs Brown and I have been prepping the wax from honey cappings and hive inspection bur comb into useful wax ingots.  See the latest pictures for details. Now for the wax to be made into moulds, candles and, next week, into wax wraps with our exciting new Bee Club Surprise Guest Instructor  .... !!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

8th October - Labelling Day - Lots of Stick

A great day back up in the top classroom with the bees of the observation hive looking on. Today we combined the design artwork into a number of different labels to create a variety of label looks. There was lots to think about on the production line, with a front and back label and two sizes of jar to consider. However, with a quality control team set up at the end, it was success all round. All in all a good finish, and now the 113g (4oz) and 227g (8oz) jars are ready for sale to the Crosthwaite C of E Primary School faithful. Making sure that the proceeds are 'ring-fenced' for the Bee Club equipment costs. Come and buy now as we don't expect them to last long. Best honey EVER!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

1st October - Honey in Jars & Design - It did Floweth

Cracking on with the honey production process we did some more labelling design today. Some great ideas and the label design, next week, will be a 'democratic' process, may be involving two different label designs. In the meantime, those jars won't fill themselves! The honey, filtered nicely over the week, flowed beautifully into the 113 g (4 oz) jars. There will be some  227g (8oz) ones and there were two 454g (1lb) jars for the honey show. All in all there was 13 litres of the golden harvest; four times last year's crop, for which the 2019 Bee Club members should be very proud. Good Show! 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

24th September - Honey Day - Let it flow!

Today we set about the long sticky process of extracting this year's harvest. It will be a week or so before it's in jars and there was the matter of the 2019 label design. Two groups today; while one worked on label and logo the other extracted. Than they swapped, It was a rewarding experience to see such a golden harvest this year. And there may have been a bit of tasting ... yes it's the best! More filtering and labelling next week. We can't wait.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

17th September - New School Year - New Bee Club !

Such a treat to see some of the old members alongside some keen looking new members. Up to full capacity again. No delay in sorting out the right size suits and straight out to see the School Apiary. No inspections - colonies almost readied for Winter now - but a chance for the new members to see the hives close up and for the old members to get an update on the state of the colonies. An obligatory photo shoot and Mrs Brown's cakes were well received as always, and there was a summary of what the year has ahead for us all. Simply can't wait to get going!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

BEE CLUB DIARY BLOG 1&2

[if you're checking this out on a mobile device then the pics are  right at the bottom, so to see them scroll down to the end]

7th August - Crosthwaite School Beekeepers Visit to Cartmel Show Kendal Beekeepers Stand and New Queen in Observation Hive

Such a treat to see a couple of Crosthwaite School Beekeepers visit us at the Cartmel Show today. A very positive day for us promoting beekeeping for youngsters. Also, in the last few days the new queen in the observation hive has been seen laying eggs and keeping the colony in bees for the new term ahead.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

14th July - Kendal Beekeepers Association Visit

What a successful day. Such a lot of effort and contributions put in by the Bee Club team who impressed everyone of the association visitors today. We found tow queens, including the one in the observation hive and lots of queen cells. The was an excellent presentation by the young beekeepers on finding queens and lots of tea and cake. Well done all involved.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

2nd July - Last Day in the Apiary This Term

Sadly, I'm away next week, so this was the last Apiary inspection for this term. Of course those helping to host the Kendal & South Westmorland Beekeepers Apiary Meet, here at Crosthwaite School, on Sunday 14th July will be showing the experts how it's done with a short presentation on HOW TO FIND A QUEEN; there will be cakes and tea and good bee-chat and, as like the end of today's inspection, there may be a healthy slice of Mrs Brown's homemade millionair's shortbread ! Next week's Bee Club will be preparing it, some fun activities and certificate presentations from Mr Jessop. ALL WELCOME ! 

 

Today was Miss Peill's last day of assisting the club, so a huge THANK YOU to Emma for her excellent support over the last few weeks.

 Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

25th June - Further Inspections in the Apiary

Another splendid afternoon in the apiary, despite the rain earlier. Without delay, we suited up and went straight there. First we removed the feeder from Colony 3. Through the Perspex crown board we could see the numbers looked good but there was little time to dwell on that as we had two more pressing colonies to investigate. Then it was onto Colony 4, this year's swarm recovery. The inspection team were quick to notice lower numbers than expected, no eggs but lots of healthy brood. This looked like a missing queen and some of the colony, looking a lot like she had itchy wings and swarmed again. The good news was that she's left a healthy colony and two lovely queen cells. One to watch for next week. On to Colony 2, which had old Colony 1's queen inserted last week. Good news here as there were eggs aplenty here, although the queen was very elusive and avoided our best efforts to find her.  Everyone had a go at inspecting, tool handling or smoking today so a good effort all round.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

18th June - Back Out to the Apiary !

Finally, there's a break in the Summer rain, chill and wind. Yesterday I had a quick check to see the damage of the last two weeks. Colony 1 was in total demise, but still had the queen. Due to the weather none of colony 2's new queens seems to have made it. So I popped the queen on a 'butler cage', with a fondant door, and placed her in colony 2. If all goes well, they will accept her in the two days it takes to eat through the door. Meanwhile colony 3  has got their new queen, mated with drones and laying away! Today it was time to inspect colony 4. All remaining colonies had had supplimentry food yesterday (3 lts of syrup) but every drop had been drunk. These ladies were HUNGRY! The good news was that colony 4 (this year's swarm) was doing well with new brod and eggs, although we didn't catch the queen in today's inspection. A good day's work. Well done all.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

11th June - Another Day in the Classroom - Windy

Once again, Summer has eluded us and due to cold temperatures and wind we were in the classroom today. We did work on our Bee Diaries, using this BLOG to help individual club members summarise their achievements and other worked on the Bee Projects from Varroa studies to anatomy-labelled models of bees. All these will help with the overall studies and maybe a BBKA Junior Certificate someday. There were also question and answer sessions with the cover off the OBSERVATION HIVE so we can study the little marvels without going down to the Apiary. All in all a very productive day. And the teachers helped, especially with the consumption of Mrs Brown's homemade chocolate chip cookies !

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

4th June - First Day Back in the Classroom - Rainy

Due to rain and wind we were back in the classroom today. We did a review of the quiz one answers to improve our knowledge and studied the observaton hive developments. Then it was outside into the covered area for a demonstration of how to safely light a smoker that will last the time of an inspection. Still a good day and lots of laughs. And Mrs Brown's home made cup cakes were always a welcome energy boost!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

28th & 31st May - Half Term Watch

Despite it being half term, some of the Bee Club volunteers were available to do some necessary inspections. On the 28th May Colony 2 needed an inspection, and just as well. We found the old queen but there were an epic 14 queen cells in the brood box. We trimmed this down to two, having deduced that they were probably supercedure, with there being so few eggs. A quick check of colony 3 (in case they needed a queen cell) found there were eggs there suggesting our patience paid off and their queen is no longer 'virgin'. On the 31st may we looked at possibly removing one of colony 2's supers but decided a few more sunny days were needed to seal-up the open honey cells. We did look at the new colony 4 and were delighted to see that 11 out of 11 frames were busy with bees. We quickly popped a super on them and maybe there'll be honey from the new kids on the block this year! Checking on colony 1, the poorly ones, it was heartening to see that they have a few extra frames of bees there, so maybe they're on the mend. A good half term's work, thanks to those involved, as well as those that volunteered.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

21st May - Inspection Day

Another good inspection day, with the sun blazing down, we had time for just one inspection, as it gets quite warm in the suits. The young beekeepers were, however, resolute in investigating colony 3. It was queenless last time we inspected it, with two big queen cells. This time, sadly, no sign of a queen or eggs yet. It can take up to 5 weeks for a virgin queen to emerge, mate and start laying however, so we'll look at this colony again soon. Some important lessons today about handlng, and the value of doing things smoothly and carefully. We also were so pleased to see the Bee Club House now has a new decking area and a coat of protective paint, Horah for Mr Jessop! Next week, despite half term, the new colony gets an inspection from some stalwart members of the Bee Club.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

14th May - Investigation Day

Missing year 3 & 4 today, however, chuffed to have one of last year's club join the team and Emma P our new assistant supervisor too! We also rwere delighted to announce the re-colonisation of the top classroom observation hive. Today, however, was a day of investigation, with colony one clearly not on form.  With the Golden Rules of inspection in mind, two of the team, with the rest in attendance offering advice, counted the frames of bees, inspected each frame and observed small numbers of brood and eggs. Finally we spotted the queen, but all was clearly not well. There were far too few stores and not enough brood for the season and given the original size if the colony. Two things came to mind; chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV) or deformed wing virus (DWV), both can lead to colonies not being able to support themselves. There were a few bees with deformed and even missing wings so the latter was suspected (see pictures). The young inspectors took some ‘sample’ bees for further analysis later. More on this next week.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

7th May - A Day of  Projects, Quizzs and Records

Due to work I was away today sadly, but Mr Jessop organised a much awated consolidation day for the Bee Club members to test their knowledge with some fun quizzes and for those planning to do their BBKA Junior Certificate to update their Bee Diaries and organise their personal honeybee related projects. A productive day I'm led to believe. I can't wait to see the results of the Quizzes!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

30th April - A New Colony Joins the Apiary  

The previous day, a swarm was located in the field. We recovered it to a 'Nuc Box' and today's task was to transfer it to a proper hive brood box. It was all hands to the equipment with everyone bringing something across the field to the apiary. There were signs of egg laying just in the one day, so even though we didn't spot the queen, she was there some where. Eventually, with a team effort they were established in their new home. The apiary now is at full capacity with four colonies. Well done Bee Club Team for a good effort.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

23th April - First Hands-On Inspection  

A glorious day and so it was suits on, quick brief and across the field. This was a chance to show what we'd learned and put it into action. Colony 3 was first; clearly doing well and busy making honey in the super with comb, comb with nectar and comb with closed up honey stores. The brood box was quite full, with young in all stages and eggs. One of our team was stung, as happens when accidently rolling a worker on the end of a frame. He bravely declared what had happened and we followed procedure. He was back after the statutory observation time post treatment, keen to be back in the inspection. Colony 1 wasn’t so well, with drawn out comb on the brood box yet no stores, few bees and no queen cells, we deduced that they were sorely in need of extra food; possibly post robbery. We fed them with syrup in a feeder and will have to monitor their progress next week. A good learning session today, well done all.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

10th April - Shook Swarm  

Despite the Easter Holiday being in full swing, I was lucky enough to have two Bee Club members join me for a 'shook swarm' procedure yesterday. The procedure is designed to give the colony a new set of frames and boxes to live in, due to the old hive and it's brood being over-run with nasty varroa mites. This procedure was tricky and awash with confused bees but the team was fantastic and we got the job done including the vital task of finding the queen in the old box and making sure she was safely transported to the new one. Great job - great team.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

2nd April - Feeding the Bees  

Too cold to inspect the bees fully today, however seeing the weather taking a cold snap, with the wind and rain too, the bees need feeding to stop them starving, given their now increasing numbers, as the queens are laying. So feed them we did. A brilliant opportunity for the young beekeepers to show off their hive handling skills. Only time for three pairs today but the rest were very keen and helpful with carrying and supplying fondant and tools. The six handling beekeepers did everything by themselves today, under guidance, and really well! Complete stars, and the bees really needed the food as they'd scoffed the batch they had been given two weeks ago, completely. I was exceptionally proud of our young beekeepers today, especially as it was the last day before Easter Holiday. We had one leaver as well, who's family are departing the area. She was a complete star today showing her learned skills so well. There was a certificate of course attendance with some lovely pics of her during the bee club sessions on the back. Farewell! All in all a very good day and close to the term's Bee Club. See you after Easter with some better weather, hopefully! 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

26th March - Cleaning Up and Fitting Out  

Great day today despite it being too cold to inspect. We visited the Bee Club House and cleaned up the old equipment as well as checking out the new. The club now has two full kit boxes of it's own and everyone has their own suit and name badge. Lovely pink gloves too as they are best for delicate handling of the frames. Hopefully it'll be warm enough for the season's first proper inspection next week. Great group picture infront of the Bee Club. 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

19th March - Inspection Practice Completed  

Everyone has now demonstrated a hive inspection practical, with  good team building and some really good knowledge displayed from everyone. The extra suits are on their way and two full tool kits so we'll all be ready for the Spring inspection on the actual bees soon. We also issued the updated APIARY RULES and everyone gets their own apiary check list. Queen marking practice next week if the weather is still unsuitable. 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

12th March - Inspection Practice  

After last week's demonstration it was time to put theory into practice. Two pairs did a mock-inspection, successfully demonstrating their learned skills. Then there was a quick presentation about all the many dangers and creatures that can be assail our lovely bees. Some scary creatures and deseases indeed.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

5th March - Inspection Training  After the excitement of last week, it was a bit disappointing to be back in the classroom on a cold wet day. However, we got a chance to consolidate our knowledge and go through the process of a hive inspection in slow time, albeit without bees. There were some 'used' frames so that there were various things to identify and assess. All important was the safety and procedure briefs and all the young beekeepers impressed me.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

28th February - First Inspection of the Year    

After a two week break we couldn't let the good weather go to waste so we did a safety brief, donned suits and gloves then headed for the School Apiary. With two of last years veterans to assist me, we had what was for some, the first look inside an active hive. So pleased to see a healthy colony, a laying queen and lots of stores for the young lavae. A very good day indeed.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

5th February - More Frame Making for all and Todays Lesson was on SWARMS    Great chat about honeybee swarming, why and how? Some very good questions and some well remembered bee facts helped the group understand how one colony becomes two! After last week's demo, it was time for everyone to try their hand at frame making. Some slightly over dramatic pics here but everyone had a great time. Let's hope the bees are happy with the frames.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

29th January - Frame Making and Bee Caste Inentification    A lot to take in today with a talk on 'caste' or honey bee types in the hive and what they do. Queens, Wrokers and Drones were explored and then there was a demonstration of frame making for next time when everyone can have a go. There were some slightly over dramatic reaction to the camera today but some great questions and god answers.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

22th January - Hive and Tools Day Super to see a full house at the club today, with a couple of last year's bee club members popping in to help too. I brought in one of my wooden hives today to review what we learned last week and to use as a model for the uses of the various apiarist's tools. We covered the hive tool, queen cages, marker crown and the colour markers for the queen. Lovely that most remembered which colour spot to put on a new queen for each year. There were demonstrations and most were conversant with the uses of the various implements available to the beekeeper by the end of play. A good day. Sorry, no photos today as the camera man was in London on assignment.   

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

15th January - The First Day for 2019 Great to see most of our YOUNG BEEKEEPERS and a new assistant in for the first Bee Club of term. Lots of plans and measuring up for new bee suits. Then a look at a beehive with all the components and what they are for. Some really good questions from the team and most remembered the lessons from last term. Very encouraging.  Scary looking beekeeper in the photo !!   Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

27th November - The Last Day for 2018 Great to see a full house for the end of year bee club. Lots discussed for the coming year with hives, colony additions, new suits and tools to learn how to manage. Great fun in the offing as well as a challenge, for some, at the British Beekeeping Association's Junior Certificate in the Summer. Merry Christmas YOUNG BEEKEEPERS.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

20th November - Waxing Lyrical, a bit more Labelling and some more Bee Knowledge Lots of funwith wax and mounds this week, heating up the wax in an old baked bean can (with a crimp for pouring) and filling wax moulds as well as some more about bees and apiary safety brief. Getting ready for the new year. We'll see the wax mould results next week. The Award winning jars got labelled too.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

13th November - Labelling Day a Big Welcome to Josie our new Bee Club Assistant and A bit Of Bee Knowledge Today started with a welcome and introduction to the lovely JOSIE, who has joined us to assist in the Bee Club activities. She comes with a wealth of knowledge about beekeeping from New Zealand.  We then did a quick presentation on the history and natural history of honeybees and there were some very bright questions from the bee clubbers afterwards. This was followed with a great effort cutting out the new label design and labelling the honey jars.

 

Tonight at the big Kendal & South Westmorland Beekeepers Association honey show  Crosthwaite School Bee Club was awarded a 'Second Place' in the schools entry and a 'First Place' for their honey in the 'newcomers' catergory. Well done Crosthwaite Bee Club!!

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

6th November - Waxy Day Extracting the Beeswax and A New Bee Club Sign Another busy day in the classroom today finalising the labels for the school honey jars. Using the 'design-by-democracy' method.

 

Learing how to extract the beeswax from the cappings taken off the honey super cells. Lots of bubble bubble boil and rubble as we used school yard stones to weigh down the waxy mess in the muslin bag. Eventually the clean wax makes it's way to the top and we'll have to wait for it to cool to lift it off. 

Also, a huge thank you Mr Alan Tett for our brilliant new Bee Club Sign. Awesome! 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

30th October - Design Day Labels for Our Honey Jars  Busy day in the classroom today designing labels for the school honey jars. Learing how to label honey and keeping to the 'rules and regulations' but having fun nonetheless.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

9th October - Heron Hill School beekeeping visit  A huge 'queen bee' thanks to Mrs Jacqui Cottom and Heron Hill beekeepers for hosting our young beekeepers at their fantastic facilities. They certainly take their beekeeping seriously, but manage to have great fun too. Something for us to espire to. We're well on our way to creating the same and look forward to our apiary development in the coming year.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

25th September - Honey Honey and More New Bee Club Members  We were chuffed to have a few more join our happy band of young beekeepers, one a member from last year. There were discussions about the coming weeks with a Famous School Beekeeper doing a guest talk at the school and a visit to see Heron Hill's mighty beekeeping club. TRhen it was time for more honey processing with everyone getting a chance to pour some of last weeks extracted, and now filtered, hone into the little jarts for the school honey sale. In a couple of weeks the designs fro the label will be done and printed. Can't wait.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

18th September - New School Year and New Bee Club Members  We all introduced ourselves and discussed the exciting year ahead. There will be hive inspections, beekeeing management and understanding bees and their role in nature, building a new vibrant clubhouse and visits to other apiaries. This will involve building hive parts, tending the bees (including next year's observation hive) and making bee products together. This kicked off today straight into the process of honey extraction and next week, label design and refining for the jars. Much fun stickiness and saving the wax for candlemaking soon. Lots to keep us busy over the winter months.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

____________________________________________________

26th June - A very quick look - Scorching Hot 

Today it was so hot we elected to just have a short chat about swarms and quick look at the new colony. We couldn't find the new queen but we knew she was lurking there as the brood was fresh and there were lovely patterns of eggs. Lamenting last week's losses from 'robbing' on colony 2, we have now removed the 'angry' colony 1 and all is tranquil once again in the school apiary. Time for a refreshing drink, a lolly from Mr Jessop and Mrs Brown's millionaire's shortbread. Nom nom.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

17th June - A special visit from the Kendal Beekeeper's Association

Today we hosted the Kendal and South Westmorland Beekeepers Association for their annual visit to the school apiary. There was an excellent turn out from the club members and they were such a good support team for the inspection of the hives. We showed them the new shed (club house) and our active observation hive. There was a talk on varroa treatments and tea and cake all round. A fine day for the school. Well done our young beekeepers.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

5th June - A scorching hot day  After a half term break, the school's young beekeepers were chuffed to find that they now had a new club headquarters. A spacy bee shed donated but the very generous Mr Alan Tett who’s donations to both Crosthwaite and Heron Hill schools has been epic. The additions didn’t end there as they also had a new colony! A swarm collected from the side of Linthwaite House  Bowness has now found refuge here. We did the inspection first thing today and transferred the new colony from the ‘nuc’ box, that they were captured in, to their own new hive. Although we couldn’t find the queen during the transfer, she was confirmed as present later, as was the elusive colony two queen, who’s been hiding since we got her from Mr Tett last year. A quick talk about the live cycle of a queen bee, over one of Mrs Brown’s brownies, made it a very full day.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

22nd May - Another glorious day  

Able to get out again today. Everyone got to inspect some frames again and all looked good including the 'RED' queen. A good spot from one of the team was a queen bumble bee that had wandered too close to the colony. There was a lesson on DRONES as well, highlighting their strange life.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

15th May - A Truly Fine Day  An excellent inspection day. Everyone got to inspect some frames and our queenless colony, that had the 'angry' queen removed, came up trumps. From the two queen cells seen a few weeks ago, a new 'RED' queen has emerged and is laying well. Colony two doing fine as well. A tougher queen to spot but she's there, laying away.

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

 Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

8th May - Another wet day  Not much good for apiay in spection sadly. However some more bee-fact learned and a bit of honey bee anatomy thrown in at the end for next weeks memory recal.

So we set about a few carpentry skills. All the members of the club got hands on with hammers and pins to create their own brood frames. Not a suqashed finger to be seen - Stars all. Once again coaxed on with Mrs Brown's fine homemade chocolate chip cookies. Well done  all at today's 

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

  Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

 

1st May - Crosthwaite Church of England Primary School with its established apiary has just recently followed in the footsteps of Heron Hill Primary School with its own BEE CLUB. It has nine members and after some cold and rainy weather this Spring, finally got to get out and inspect the school bees during their second club meeting.

 

All the members, from years 3 to 6, got to handle a frame of bees and demonstrate their learnt  safety routines and good beekeeping practices. Spurred on by the knowledge that there were Mrs Brown’s mini cupcakes waiting in the classroom, they all demonstrated the buddy-system of checking one another before de-suiting . A good day at

Crosthwaite Primary School Bee Club.

Andy Brown - School Beekeeper

The Pictures can be 'clicked' to expand them