Bees, myself and winter preparations

Did you know that when creating honey, bees actually regulate the temperature and humidity in their hive to a certain point so that it’s just perfect for the honey. And that this is one of the reasons why honey can be preserved for basically forever?

If someone told me 10 years ago that I would become a beekeeper I would have smiled and gone “Sure, whatever you say”

But here I am, owning a hive with plans on getting a few more in spring. I never suspected that I’d enjoy it so much, that it would be so relaxing to just watch the girls do their job, coming and going from the hive. And seeing the transformation inside of the hive.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m looking into setting up a live stream on the landing board. Not because I’m thinking “Oh people will want to watch this and maybe sponsor the stream!” No, it’s purely because I want to watch it happen, I want to be able to look at one of my screens and watch the bees go back and forth.

Another added extra to that would be that IF something were to be happening to them, I can see it happen and act accordingly.

I even made a site for these girls, something that’s still a work in progress, but I own a brand name of sorts now. If you’re curious, feel free to go and have a look at the BooBees. Yes, I called them Boo Bees. Partly because I just think the name is funny and technically it’s also true that all the honey you eat, has been made by bees long gone.
The site isn’t quite where it needs to be just yet. I’m still testing things and making it better. I’ll also do a dutch part since, you know.. I live in Belgium and most people here talk Dutch as their main language, they know English, but not that well. I also absolutely love our logo.

Ghost bees! Boo Bees!
There’s even a few jars! But most are already gone

Right now, Winter is coming. And this means that the girls are getting towards their last days of getting ready for it.
This means getting their stores of honey up and preparing winter bees.

Normally most of the worker bees only last for a couple of weeks, the only bee inside the hive that last for longer is the Queen, who can live up to 2 years, longer even in some cases. That is if she’s doing an ok job and the hive doesn’t decide that it’s time for a new Queen. Something I might talk about some other time.

But when winter is around the corner, the queen starts laying a different kind of worker. Namely the winter bee. They live for a couple of months and their job is to make sure the hive stays a nice temperature during the winter and that the queen survives too.

The queen, busy doing her job of laying more workers. The frame in question has honey on top, the queen is the one with the yellow dot.

Us beekeepers use this time to feed them if they need it, and make sure to get mite treatment done, since the varroa mite is one of the most important things that we need to handle in our hives.

In my case, they had their varroa treatment around the end of July, so that means I’ll only have to have a look at it in December.
But what I am doing now is feeding the girls, and boy are they hungry. When I got the hive, they were using about 6 or 7 frames, I had hoped that in the past two months they would have grown to use a bit more but alas, that did not happen.

In an inspection a couple of weeks ago I had also noticed that only one frame out of the ones they were using was filled with honey, which is not good when winter is almost there. So what did I do? I started feeding them. I gave them a bunch of sugar syrup and the other day I gave them 2.5kg of sugar fondant.

“Why are we here? Weren’t we just in a jar?”
“I think the human had to take the jar so he put us here at the entrance, so considerate”
Exactly what I did, replaced their empty syrup bowl with fondant

I had hoped that the syrup would be enough and that maybe they wouldn’t want the fondant since they had enough in store, but I was wrong, they’re taking it in too.

One bite at a time

Seeing that the girls know best what they might need, I’m just letting them have it all and in a couple of weeks I’ll take the hive apart one last time. At that point I’ll change the current cover board with one that has no hole in it and add some news paper to the top to make sure it’s nicely isolated.

And then it’s mostly hoping that they make it through the winter because there won’t be much I can do to help more.

“What’s the human doing this time?”

I like this new hobby I have though, it’s definitely different than what I usually do (gaming) and it’s good for the bees! And let’s be honest, bees are awesome.

Even those among you that might be allergic to them realise that without them, we’d be properly fucked, since without bees to pollinate things, we’d have a lot less food going around.

That reminds me, I wonder if I’m allergic. I have yet to be stung by one in the past few months. I remember having been stung years and years ago when I was a kid. And despite there not being anything wrong at that time, people’s physiology changes as they grow older, so who knows I might react very different to it than when I was a child.

But there’s only one way to find out, and I’m hoping that me getting stung won’t happen for a long time.

Stay tune o7


The joys of travel

Once again it has been a while since I’ve written anything, but I have the perfect excuse! I’ve not thought about writing in a bit.

Why you ask? Well, that’s easy, I’ve been busy. Not just with my new hobby or my gaming, but I’ve been traveling.

The past two years I have spent about 50% of my time in the UK, because my girlfriend lives there and it’s just easier for me to go there and work from home than for her to come over here since she works at a pharmacy and I just need a laptop to do my job.

So since half of August-ish I have been spending my time over there again.

Going there usually starts with me taking a trip with the Eurotunnel, which is nice. I drive over to Calais, get on the train, get off in Folkestone and continue my journey. It costs a bit but that’s mostly because I take the Flexiplus tickets which give me the option to come whenever I want and just get on the next train.

Normally that is, this time around I did a bit of a fuckup and had to take a train later. Although I wouldn’t really call it a fuckup and more of a miscommunication, with customs…

Usually at border control, you show your passport, they have a quick look, you drive forward, the customs officers sometimes flag you to do a quick check and you carry on. This time around there were no customs officers at my lane, so I just went straight for the flexiplus lounge, went to the toilet, got my drinks etc etc and carried on to the train which was leaving in approximately 10 minutes.

While getting into the lane towards the train someone came walking towards me, flagging me down. He told me that I was unable to take the next train and to follow the car in front of me. A car, that had suddenly blocked my passage and I had not even noticed.

As it turns out, the customs agents had waved to me, thought I saw them and ignored them, and that I was trying to get to the UK with some contraband.

Cue me following the car, getting pulled aside in a hangar, answering a bunch of questions and emptying my trunk.

Obviously, there was nothing of note that I took with me because I don’t do illegal stuff (except for speeding from time to time)
But here was another new somewhat funny thing that happened to me.

During my times in UK me and my girlfriend decided that we wanted to go to Scotland again. We did it last year in September and absolutely loved it. Seeing that we both had a week off coming up we decided to do it again, but unlike last time, this time we’d do some camping. The nice thing about Scotland is that wild camping is permitted. You basically rock up somewhere, pitch a tent, sleep, and go on about your business.

I’m not that much of a fan of using a tent BUT I thought that maybe we could just sleep in the car. So I bought an inflatable matrass, tested it in the boot of the car et voila, we had a place to sleep!

Inflatable matrass for the trunk
70£ for this thing was not too shabby a purchase

Getting to Scotland from my girlfriend’s place took us about 6 hours and a bit. We came to Loch Lomond near nightfall and were able to take a few pictures of the Loch before carrying on to the highlands.

Loch Lomond after dusk, amazing despite the dark

I absolutely hate driving at night so at some point when it was quite dark, we decided that we had driven enough and it was time to make camp. I parked somewhere next to the road and we got to setting up the bed.

Waking up to a stunning view of the mountain ranges was amazing and made me smile wide. It was an awesome experience.

The view from my car window after waking up
Once we got out of the car we noticed how stunning everything was

In the days after that we parked the car in a bunch of random spots whenever we were tired. We did Glencoe, Skye and a part of the NC500 before heading home again.

Perfect place to spend the night after a long day of driving on Skye

I absolutely love Scotland, it’s one of the places that I wouldn’t mind living in. Just get myself a house near a Loch in the highlands and enjoy life. The only issue would probably be shopping. I don’t think we understand how easy it is for us in this day and age with how we have multiple big grocery stores in a 10 mile radius. While driving around the less populated parts of Scotland I realised that we are pampered in that aspect. Although I obviously have no idea if things like Amazon take more than a day or if it’s next day delivery there too. In the end I’m sure there’s plenty of other ways to do your thing.

Wouldn’t mind living here

Having the inflatable bed in the car was nice too, but next time we go, I’m definitely renting a campervan.

The people driving in them and the motorhomes just made me jealous, so much more room to sleep, so much more things they can take with them.

I get why people enjoy the vanlife so much. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the budget to get myself a van like that. So I’ll just have to make do renting one.

It will definitely come in handy when we go to Norway.  

Next blog I shall be talking about the bees again.

Stay tuned