Winter wonderland 

We live in a very lucky land and a very lucky city. In spite of grim grey skies over Brisbane, my garden insists on thriving. 

While not a whole lot of variety for the bees, my girls are still getting good pollen and nectar from lavender, Rosemary, cosmos, chilli, rocket and apricots (I know weird right). 


Brisbane – perfect place for a bee to be! 

Honey from two hives.

I had hoped to harvest from my Flow Hive frames this weekend and had plenty of volunteers from Northside Beekeeping Association on hand to help and celebrate with Italian Coffee and Baklava to dip into the freshly poured honey. Unfortunately a week of rain slowed up the girls so they weren’t quite ready.  

 So close! Flow frames still a week or so from harvest. 

Fortunately a check on the other frames and boxes meant that I was able to harvest in the traditional way, getting 4 full depths from H1/FH1 – Madonna’s hive and 4 Ideals from H2/B2 – Magdelan’s Hive. The B2 in Magdelan’s indicates that it was a brood box not a honey box that I extracted from. 

The only difference between the two is that a brood box sits below the Queen excluder  and a honey box or super sits above. In theory there will be a majority of bee larvae in the brood frames (with some honey and pollen used to feed the bee larvae) and 100% honey above. 

This is a simplistic explanation and not fully accurate but it is the basic theory.

While I had put on a second brood box to both hives to encourage more laying, Magdelan’s hive is using it as a honey store rather than for the queen to lay. 

Honey is so beautifully unique in that it’s taste is totally dependent on what the bees have foraged. I noticed during the extraction that Madonna’s honey look slightly opaque which indicates a good portion of buttery clover honey. Rather than mix with Magdelan, which is a lighter clearer honey, I’ve decided to keep them separate. 

  Madonna’s harvest on the right and Magdelan’s left. 

There is certainly a difference in the two but as a suburban apiary with diverse flora, it will all be mixed bloom but I hope my buyers will appreciate the uniqueness to each harvest from the girls. 

Stingless bees protest “we’re working hard too!”

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I will admit that my lovely little Australian native stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) have been left to their own devices over the last few months while I’ve been busily setting up my honey bees. Today however, I took a wander through the garden and checked out what these little guys have been up to. 

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Bless them they’re very hard at work harvesting and pollinating my apricot, Chinese flat cabbage, broccoli – none of which are of any interest to my honey bees. They also happily share the basil, lavender and nasturtiums with the honey bees.

Also hanging out with the bees were heaps of hover flies who love aphid larvae so I’m always happy to see in the patch.

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Lazy bee gardening

I admit that I’ve been pretty neglectful of my garden in the last few months as I’ve been off to bee school early on a Saturday and exhausted by the time I get home. Now that I am coming to the end of all my hard bee preparation, I’ve been taking the time to wander around the garden in the morning watching the bees at work.

honey bee in nasturtiums

In my absence, my nasturtiums have taken over a good 3 metres of my veggie patch – swallowing tomato plants, green onions and chives in their path. But watching the bees gorge themselves this morning, I couldn’t be too upset; it’s like having a neon sign in your yard saying “Bee Stop Here”.

honey bee with pollen

What’s Flowering July-August

Winter in Brisbane is not like winter anywhere else in the world. Our bees have an abundance of flora to feast on for pollen and nectar and bee keepers rarely stop harvesting honey.

French Lavender

French lavender traditionally flowers Winter-Spring. In my garden, it hasn’t stopped since it first started flowering in June 2014 – thanks to my lovely native girls and visiting honey bees.

Rocket – I never seem to make the most out of my rocket when it is growing, but the bees certainly love it when it bolts to flower.

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