Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bee Picnic

Today was the annual Worcester County Beekeeper Association summer picnic. The weather was perfect for a picnic - a little hot, but not humid. It is a chance for people to get together and enjoy each other's company and some good food (but then, a lot of the bee club meetings revolve around food - wonder why that is?).

As we walked in, we were greeted by this fellow:

This rooster was crowing up a storm! The host, Scott, has chickens and roosters in a caged area. I don't know if this one was an escapee or not. By the looks of his ragged feathers, he is one tough guy!

Here is one of the two tables of food (mostly deserts on this one, and the picture was taken toward the end of the picnic):

Our contribution to the picnic was a watermelon, which Jacob liked (although he didn't like getting his picture taken)

A these bee picnics, in addition to all the food and frivolity, two other events always occur.

One: Ken Warchol, the Worcester County bee inspector (and all around bee whisperer) always has some kind of a contest on bee knowledge. Last year it was a table set up with flowers, honey, and bee items you had to identify. This year the volunteers split into two teams and completed on bee knowledge, as well as proficiency in finding and identifying features in a working hive (like finding the queen, looking for problems, etc.). The second thing always present at the bee picnics is getting into a working hive (which Ken combined with the competition this year).

Here is Ken giving the teams some instructions (and you can see some of the quiz items on the table behind him):

Here is the host's apiary for the "practical" part of the exam:

The teams suited up to go into the hives, with the rest of us watching (some of the observers chose to wear a veil; most did not):

(this young lady is also a beekeeper, along with her father)

Ken was right there in the middle of things, to help and judge. Without a bee suit, like usual.

The pictures don't really do justice to the experience. There were hundreds of bees flying around us, but they were very gentle (click the picture above and zoom in the sky and you will see lots of spot - those are bees). I don't think anyone got stung the entire time, and we were in the hives for about 30 minutes.

An interesting thing about these hives: the center two hives are actually double-nucs. It is a normal 10-frame hive body with a thin divider down the middle, which provides for 2 five-frame nucs. That's why you see both a front and a side entrance for this hive:

All in all it was a very good picnic. I spoke to some other people about my honey-less problem, and others are having the same problem. It could be that where I live there are no large scale nectar sources around.

On the way out we were again greeted by the bouncer:

And I had to laugh at this guy, who was picking up a bunch of hive frames from someone else at the picnic:

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