Successful opening weekend of Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre

Friday 18th July 2014 marked the beginning of a very successful weekend for the PBKA, with the official opening of the ‘Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre’ at Scolton Manor by Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, together with the launch of Scolton’s own Victorian Walled Garden project.

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Saturday featured an Open Day at the Centre as part of National Countryside Week and the ‘Bee Hive’ exhibition was overflowing all afternoon with members of the public coming in to watch the honey extracting demonstration in the ‘Honey Kitchen’ and live pictures from the ‘hive cam’! Members of the PBKA were also present to talk to the public and give hive inspection demonstrations at the ‘Pine Tree Apiary’.

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On Sunday, we held another beekeeping training session at the apiary, which was followed as always with tea and Rosemary’s fabulous (and dare I say it? – famous) cakes, which she always keeps us generously supplied with!

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If you haven’t been up to see the Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre yet, it is well worth the trip with something for the whole family!

We hope to see you there soon!

Successful ‘Honey Kitchen’ demonstration

A very successful demonstration of honey extracting took place at the new Honey Kitchen at Scolton Manor on Sunday afternoon watched by over 70 people who crammed into the exhibition and extracting room. Paul Eades, the Apiary Manager, uncapped the frames, while John Dudman loaded the extractor and gave a running commentary to various groups, consisting of PBKA members and the public, who came in to watch the fun!

Lots of questions were asked by the observers present, and staff at Scolton Manor have indicated that an enormous amount of interest has been generated since the facility first opened in July. It is planned to do further demonstrations during the rest of this season (dates to be finalised) in order to build on this.

The Honey Kitchen is a commercial standard honey processing facility, which will be used for hygienically extracting and bottling association honey in accordance with Environmental Health regulations, as well as for training PBKA members and public demonstration.

PBKA members wishing to extract their own honey, can of course continue to hire the association extractor from the Apiary Manager by arrangement.
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Oil Seed Rape (OSR) Honey

Oil seed rape brassica napus has become increasingly common in Pembrokeshire.  Bees love it and will take themselves to a field 3 miles away in preference to closer forage.  But the honey produced can be a problem for the beekeeper who isn’t aware of its properties, the main one being to granulate rapidly in the comb making it impossible to extract.  To find out more I spoke to Geoff Bazin, who as a former Essex beekeeper had plenty of experience with OSR and provided the following advice.

“Be prepared to extract the honey from OSR as soon as the nectar flow from it has stopped, when the flowers are dropping.  The bees may become more aggressive with the loss to them of this source.  Extraction should take place before the cells have been sealed.  Test the ripeness of the honey by shaking in a downward movement with the comb face down over the hive.  If very little nectar is shaken out the honey should then be extracted as soon as possible.  The honey will granulate if the supers are left in a shed for a couple of days for example.”

[Editors note: Once extracted the honey can be stored in honey buckets but will become viscous and will not pour.  But the honey can be returned to a runny state state by stirring it using a clean paint mixing paddle run at low speed in a power drill.]

“If OSR honey has granulated in the comb it cannot be extracted.  If this happens you have two options:

  1. To recover the wax and honey – Cut out the comb and melt it down in a container over boiling water – wax being of course flammable.  The honey and wax will separate when cooled.  The honey is second grade having been heated and is only suitable for cooking (not a bad thing!). The frames can be boiled to clean them.
  2. To reuse the comb but lose the honey – Score the surface of the cells so the honey is visible.  The metal uncapping fork is the best tool for this. Soak the frames in water for a few days.  Ideally starting at hand heat.  Agitate the frames from time to time until the honey has dissolved.  The water with the dissolved honey is then discarded.  The frames can be put back in the hive for the bees to clean up and use.  Granulation can occur if honey is stored in the frames as a result of residues of the OSR crystals in the cells.”
Thanks to Geoff for this advice.
Additional information from Ian Richards, added 9 June 2012
Before returning supers to the hives soak them in water to remove OSR honey still in the comb.  Otherwise the OSR remaining will cause any subsequent crop to granulate.