Year in the orchard celebrations continued in May at Dragon Orchard with a drop-in workshop on ‘a beginners guide to beekeeping’. David Pealing (Mr P) from Putley has been keeping bees for about seven years now, and is supplying Once Upon a Tree shop with his honey. Annie and Norman Stanier have wanted beehives in their orchard so this was a great opportunity to team up with Mr P.
Mer P had an old hive that required refurbishment. He set up outside to work on it with his willing helper Eric (10). They set too making new frames with foundation wax, wood, hammer and nails and managed quite a production line. Interested parties were welcomed to join in the action. Questions and Answers carried on a pace and eventually an inquisitive crowd gathered to learn more about the life and times of the honey bee, its hive and its role in the orchard.
Due to the very warm Easter we had experienced, the honey bees had already been very productive in some of Mr P’s hives in the village. For added interested the audience were herded into the garage and the electric doors lowered in preparation for a honey extraction display (The door was closed to reduce any bees flying past, being attracted to the honey.) Four frames heavy with comb and honey were lowered into an extraction barrel. The lid replaced and then a lot of manual effort was required to central frugally extract the honey. Efforts were rewarded with the sampling of very sweet, clear, magnificent honey.
During this day a competition was run to find the most appropriate site for the new hive. Visitors were offered the chance to set out into the orchard armed with a numbered stake, mallet and the few tips given by Mr P on the best place for a hive and find their ideal position. They were encouraged by the thought that the winning stake placed closest to the final resting place of the hive would win the first jar of honey from Dragon Orchards hive.
The day was informative but fun. Many of us left with more knowledge of the bee and beekeeping than we came with. Many thanks to Mr P for all his hard work.
UPDATE: May 5th 2011 - The Hive has been sited in the orchard between the Big Hug and Tin Shed along the hedgerow. The winning stake was No.4 belonging to Tim Kemp. Congratulations! He will be receiving the first jar of honey extracted but first we need some bees!
UPDATE: May 17th 2011 - Breaking news: We have a swarm of bees living in Dragon Orchard’s hive. They needed a little help in finding it but they have settled in and are being productive – you could say it is a hive of activity! Hopefully honey will be soon!