The Mountain Horse
Its cold at dawn in the Great Divide
And the Dew lies thick on the mountainside,
The bite of the cold air nearly makes you choke
And breath from your nostrils like dragon smoke.
The saddles are on and the cinch is tight,
Bridles are buckled and a bit to bight,
The horsemen are ready to break the camp,
The mist still rising and the bush is all damp.
The mobs been found in a clearing up ahead,
They’re all wild horses and they’re mountain bred.
Bushes flying by lashing legs and sides,
There’s danger here now for anyone who rides.
An overhanging limb so bend down low
Around rocks and wombat holes we go
There’s a mighty log we’ll have to jump
Look out, look out avoid the stump.
The big bay stallion leads his harem through the creek
There’s no place here for faint hearted or the meek,
Their hooves are like thunder and stock whips are cracking
Horses are snorting and their courage is not lacking.
Down along the valley where he knows every stride
Down along the valley where the wings are stretching wide,
But it’s too late, he knows it now, there’s nowhere left to run,
He turns and rears up high, his fight has just begun.
Something about these mountains makes you want to stay
And a mountain horse’s spirit you cannot take away.
My mind wanders back to a day not long ago,
When the horsemen came and found my mob and I put on the show.
Have you ever wondered why clouds cling to a mountain top, I took this Time-Lapse video this evening as the Sun started to set over Slievenamon, county Tipperary . As you can see as the clouds move away from the top of the mountain, they evaporate into nothing. I think this is because the air away from the peak is warmer?
I have been learning to create some time lapse video since the new year and have started to love creating some 10sec clips. For very reason that you start to see more clearly what is going on in the world around you when you view it accelerated, these clouds are a great example 🙂
A Panoramic image of the county Tipperary mountain slievenamon, We had a lot of Snow locally last Sunday and today Friday the only snow to be found was at the top of the mountain. Its a little Hard to present Panoramic images on a blog like this one, so I hope that you will click on the image to get the full size version.
This view is from the road at the bottom of the path used to walk to the top on the mountain, the path is up-hill all the way and as such while its not a long walk its a demanding one. When you get to the top however the views are well worth the energy and time spent 🙂
Last week here the weather in Ireland took a wet and showery turn, its starting to feel very close to the Autumn now. As such it was a little harder to finish each of the outdoor sketches that I started, If I have to stop a drawing I intend to return to the same location the next time I have a chance. However the sketch above is one that I did manage to finish, even this one was interrupted for some 15mins while I put everything back into my waterproof pack and waited for the rain to stop.
The location of this sketch is on the hillside just south of Clonmel and the river Suir, with a great view of the woods and its trees, looking towards the mountain of Slievenamon above, about a 10 min walk from the car park.
In the last two weeks or so I have started adding in some graphics pens to my work, I am finding that using these pens helps me keep freely flowing and moving as I work, I will return to just pencils at some point but am really enjoying the look and feel of the lines that these pens are adding. With Pencil I feel I end up with more stopping and starting during working as I think about tone and depth. light and dark, while this is great just for the moment I want to think about form and shape alone.
I am happy with this finished drawing, looking at it I wonder if I have overworked it just a little but I think for the moment I am happy. These are sketches and not final works, I am very happy , more happy if something is to be found in them that I can learn from and progress with.
New site header August 2017, Landscape view from County Kilkenny towards Slievenamon mountain, county Tipperary
This view of the county Kilkenny and Tipperary boarder lands is one of my most loved locations in county Kilkenny, it offers some great walks and places to take in the wonderful view towards the mountain of Slievenamon, Tipperary, as you can see from this image. I was very pleased to with this image as I felt that it captured the local country-side at its best in the month of August …..
Ballybay Wind Farm, Tullaroan, County Kilkenny, is home to a new wind farm owned by Renewable energy company Gaelectric.
The Location is one of the most beautiful that county Kilkenny has to offer, hidden in the hills near GrangeGrag and the Tipperary Boarder, it offers views of the lower lands towards kilkenny city and the mountain of Slievenamon, county Tipperary.
I am never sure about the impact that wind farms have on our Landscape, being a photographer and in love with my local landscapes some would assume that people like myself would be set against them. However now that this new wind farm is almost complete and having visited a few time, I find a kind of beauty and fascination with it.
The day I filmed this video the weather offered some great light, the fast moving clouds changed the areas of sun light and shade very quickly and I loved the cows grazing in the field below the wind turbines.
With this video I just wanted to share the visual effects it is having and If anyone wants, I would love to get some opinions as to what others feel ?
The most amazing thing about living close to a mountain is that almost every time your lucky enough to walk to the top the weather is different, sometimes rain, sometime fog and others times bright sunshine.
The type of weather on the mountain, I love the most is the dramatic rain and mist ….
Early March walking along the banks of the river Suir, county Tipperary.
The trees are still bare but not for long now, we had the first dry day for a long time yet it was cool.
I love this river walk very much, a mountain view of Slievenamon county Tipperary, on the north side of the river and of the hills of county Waterford on the south side.
The river Suir, Tipperary, March 8th 2017 🙂
Winter Is Coming once Again
The sky is filled with broken light,
The Sun is hidden by deep snow filled clouds,
There’s a chillness to the air,
I feel it everywhere,
All through the days and nights;
Winter is coming.
The Crows fly above Slievenamon
hunting harder then before, and the ground below
Is hard beneath wing and claw,
The trees stand bare of leaves and fruits,
And all around
Is still, Silent;
Winter is coming.
The sun will soon be gone,
Obscured by cloud,
The rivers and lakes begin to freeze,
The wind will bend the trees
Until they’re bowed
Winter is coming, once again.
Only the dead will feed hungry crows:
Mice, rabbits, sparrows.
The light fades from the Sun
Now darker days have come,
for the high crow, cold bites to the marrow,
And Winter is here.
Its A Sheeps Soul
By : fayaz bhat
O cherisher! Of hairy goats, rocky ridges,
Still vales and white-woolen sheep;
Of my love, of melodies, of muses, of her beau;
It’s the soul of a forgotten sheep
Looking for her poor pastor, his white drove
And, the rest in shade;
Or ‘tis a shepherd, a shepherdess more,
Singing in solitude, rhyme, underneath a tree
In the relaxed midday of jubilant springs,
Ballads, lounged beside the sitting slept sheep.
Or; ‘tis that boy in the wild highs
Playing floyera reclined on the mossy rock—
Goats bleat and forget to graze;
Waking up the beasts, waking up the breeze,
Eared by the deer, cheered by the crows,
’lauded by the woods, echoed by the vale.
Free her! Guide her! For it says so sweet:
My abode’s among the weeds,
The wild flowers grow, the stony meads live.
Irish Landscape Photography : Slievenamon Bog, County Tipperary, The Bog Lands a Poem By : William A. Byrne
The Bog Lands
By William A. Byrne
THE purple heather is the cloak
God gave the bogland brown,
But man has made a pall o’ smoke
To hide the distant town.
Our lights are long and rich in change,
Unscreened by hill or spire,
From primrose dawn, a lovely range,
To sunset’s farewell fire.
No morning bells have we to wake
Us with their monotone,
But windy calls of quail and crake
Unto our beds are blown.
The lark’s wild flourish summons us
To work before the sun;
At eve the heart’s lone Angelus
Blesses our labour done.
We cleave the sodden, shelving bank
In sunshine and in rain,
That men by winter-fires may thank
The wielders of the slane.
Our lot is laid beyond the crime
That sullies idle hands;
So hear we through the silent time
God speaking sweet commands.
Brave joys we have and calm delight—
For which tired wealth may sigh—
The freedom of the fields of light,
The gladness of the sky.
And we have music, oh, so quaint!
The curlew and the plover,
To tease the mind with pipings faint
No memory can recover;
The reeds that pine about the pools
In wind and windless weather;
The bees that have no singing-rules
Except to buzz together.
And prayer is here to give us sight
To see the purest ends;
Each evening through the brown-turf light
The Rosary ascends.
And all night long the cricket sings
The drowsy minutes fall,—
The only pendulum that swings
Across the crannied wall.
Then we have rest, so sweet, so good,
The quiet rest you crave;
The long, deep bogland solitude
That fits a forest’s grave;
The long, strange stillness, wide and deep,
Beneath God’s loving hand,
Where, wondering at the grace of sleep,
The Guardian Angels stand.
Alone, all alone, by the wave-washed strand
All alone in the crowded hall
The hall it is gay, and the waves they are grand
But my heart is not here at all.
It flies far away, by night and by day
To the times and the joys that are gone.
But I never will forget the sweet maiden I met
In the valley of Slievenamon.
It was not the grace of her queenly air
Nor her cheek of the rose’s glow
Nor her soft black eyes, not her flowing hair
Nor was it her lily-white brow,
‘Twas the soul of truth, and of melting ruth
And the smile like a summer dawn
That sold my heart away on a soft summer day
In the valley of Slievenamon.
In the festival hall, by the star-washed shore,
Ever my restless spirit cries.
‘My love, oh, my love, shall I ne’er see you more.
And my land, will you never uprise?’
By night and by day, I ever, ever pray
While lonely my life flows on
To see our flag unfurled and my true love to enfold
In the valley of Slievenamon.
Charles Joseph Kickham
Poems by Charles Joseph Kickham
Mending the Wall
By Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
I guess every now and then we all need to change our blogs header image. Since the start of the year I have had the below landscape image of our local Mountain Slievemanon – county Tipperary, as my sites header, Taken during the winter months.
It has taken me until the Summer to capture an image that I was as happy to use but last week, while out walking I wondered through a local field full of Barley and took some close up images. One of these I knew I would be very happy to use as a header image, at least until the Autumn when I hope to capture some of my most loved yellows and browns from the changing Irish landscape.
The last Sunset of May 2016
The last days of May 2016, here in Ireland have been blessed with prefect springtime weather, bright and warm until well into the evening time, so yesterday evening when we both got home around 6pm we decided to pack a small meal and get outside to walk up our local mountain of Slievenamon, county tipperary.
It was a perfect evening and the views from the top of the mountain were just stunning in the evening sun. On getting to the top we eat our food and just enjoyed walking around the summit, taking in the 380deg view of the landscape below.
This was a perfect way the end the Month of May 2016 🙂 🙂
Slievenamon, county Tipperary : The last Sunset of May 2016, Gallery
A simple old story this one but filled with such a simple truth.
Folktales and Fables : The North Wind and the Sun
The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveler came along wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveler take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other.Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveler fold his cloak around him; and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shined out warmly, and immediately the traveler took off his cloak.
And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.
The story concerns a competition between the North wind and the Sun to decide which is the stronger of the two. The challenge was to make a passing traveler remove his cloak. However hard the North Wind blew, the traveler only wrapped his cloak tighter to keep warm, but when the Sun shone, the traveler was overcome with heat and soon took his cloak off.
The fable was well known in Ancient Greece; Athenaeus recorded that Hieronymus of Rhodes, in his Historical Notes, quotes an epigram of Sophocles against Euripides which parodies the story of Helios and Boreas. It relates how Sophocles had his cloak stolen by a boy to whom he had made love. Euripides joked that he had had that boy too and it did not cost him anything. Sophocles’ reply satirises the adulteries of Euripides: “It was the Sun, and not a boy, whose heat stripped me naked; as for you, Euripides, when you were kissing someone else’s wife the North Wind screwed you. You are unwise, you who sow in another’s field, to accuse Eros of being a snatch-thief.”
The Latin version of the fable first appears centuries later in Avianus as De Vento et Sole (Of the wind and the sun, Fable 4), early versions in English and Johann Gottfried Herder’s poetic version in German (Wind und Sonne) also give it as such. It is only in mid-Victorian times that the title “The North Wind and the Sun” begins to be used. In fact the Avianus poem refers to the characters as Boreas and Phoebus, the gods of the north wind and the sun, and it is under the title Phébus et Borée that it appears in La Fontaine’s Fables (VI.3).
Victorian versions give the moral as “Persuasion is better than force”, but it has been put in different ways at other times. In the Barlow edition of 1667, Aphra Behn teaches the Stoic lesson that there should be moderation in everything: “In every passion moderation choose,/For all extremes do bad effects produce”, while La Fontaine’s conclusion is that “Gentleness does more than violence” (Fables VI.3). In the 18th century, Herder comes to the theological conclusion that, while superior force leaves us cold, the warmth of Christ’s love dispels it, and Walter Crane’s limerick version of 1887 gives a psychological interpretation, “True strength is not bluster”. Most of these examples draw a moral lesson, but La Fontaine hints at the political application that is present also in Avianus’ conclusion: “They cannot win who start with threats”. There is evidence that this reading has had an explicit influence on the diplomacy of modern times: in South Korea’s Sunshine Policy, for instance, or Japanese relations with the military regime in Burma.
The last two days here in Ireland have brought the first Snow of this winter. The local Mountains including Slievenamon have been covered at the highest levels and its a great sight to wake-up to.
During a recent walk up to the top of our Local Mountain (Slievenamon, county Tipperary), I came across many great examples of the art of Rock Balancing, Sadly whoever it was that had spent so much time putting these sculptures together had already left so I could not get any pictures of them working so creatively.
I still got lots of images and just wanted to share them here as a record of such great acts of creativity. The thing that impressed me the most was not so much each sculpture ( Although each was great to see ! ) but the number of them and what better location for them than the roof of the world , the very top of Slievenamon the spiritual home for anyone from county Tipperary.
Slievenamon (Irish: Sliabh na mBan, [ˈʃlʲiəw n̪ˠə ˈmˠanˠ], “mountain of the women”)
Rising as a huge heathery dome amid gentle green countryside, Slievenamon’s profile naturally attracts the eye. This is an easy mountain with with a broad and clear track leading all the way to the summit cairn.
On fine days there are extensive views, taking in all the best walking areas in the South East of Ireland.
Slievenamon is a mountain of history and mystery of lore and legends. Its name means the ‘Mountain of the Women’ and the story is told how all the fairest women raced to the top to claim the hand of the warrior, Fionn Mac Cumhail. Fionn secretly fancied Grainne, the daughter of the High King of Ireland, so he advised her how to win the race!
Although it looks like a solitary height, Slievenamon is surrounded by a series of lower heathery humps. Some of these, like the main summit, are crowned by ancient burial Cairns. The highest cairn is said to mark the entrance to the mysterious Celtic underworld.
I Choose The Mountain
Poem by howard simon
The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer
The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend
I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate
I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane
I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending
I choose the mountain
Before the mountain, by the grace of nature
I was allowed to realize “Oh!I am only a child!”
tendered by spruce and birds.
I saw without my usual defenses
and endless thinking.
I know anything or everything
coming between me and creation.
– Myochi Roko Sherry Chayat, 1990
Slievenamon, County Tipperary
Its the weekend, so its a great time to get outside, Relax, walk or just sit and take in the landscape around you 🙂
From yesterday the Spring Equinox, the days are getting longer all the way until the 21st of June, the long evening will soon be here 🙂 🙂
By : Connor Sean McMurrick Crow
A kingdom in ancient history,
long before man was thought to exist,
stood in Hyperborean heartland.
Ruled in peace by a woman of antediluvian
beauty and her King-Groom.
Leviathan, a queen of rare black hair and eyes of velt,
rose every morning to greet the sunrise.
On this particular day, she woke Archon.
With a trailing gown of violet, she led him
by hand through perfumed gardens of
Sunna broke over the hedges and
burnt the mist from frail orchids,
and all that was left of that kingdom
of runic beauty were two lovers entwined in stone.
By : Scott Madden
Dec 22, 2014
The Morning Star
Have you seen the morning star?
It keeps it’s vigil in the East,
A prophet of the dawn.
It rises when the night is at its coldest,
The warmest light in the vast blackness.
It rises when the night is at its darkest,
The brightest light in the black vastness.
Have you seen the morning star?
By : Justinian
Feb 2, 2010
The sun wakes and stretches its rays over the horizon.
Embraced is my heart and my smile shines on.
In my dreams,
you I did miss.
When I awake,
your lips I shall kiss.
Bee Keeping in Ireland is often a personal activity, with many hives being kept on family farms and Gardens, even sometimes with the permission of the forestry services.
I often come across a set of Hives while out walking in our local woodland. In the images here , taken last weekend the hives are located on the some hills facing to the north, the great mountain of Slievenamon just across the river Suir.
Very soon these Hives will be active again and I will return to get so more images.
The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations have a great web site and help on getting going with keeping bee’s, this must be a great activity and very needed with modern farming methods having massively reduced Bee numbers. I have included the text from this site on “How to become a beekeeper” below the following two images, if you would like to read it.
The beginner should first of all find out if he/she is in any way allergic to bee stings and if so not to attempt acquiring bees or taking up beekeeping without seeking medical advice.
When the urge to keep bees first hits you, the impulse is to go out and buy a hive straight away, and learn by doing in isolation – this is not the best approach. The best first step is to join your local branch of the Beekeepers’ Association, preferably in the Autumn.
You can then attend their classes for beginners and programme of winter lectures which are held frequently and cover all aspects of beekeeping. There are 45 such Associations scattered throughout the country.
Other benefits of membership include the use of a library – video and book, plenty of friendly advice and you are kept up to date with developments within the craft. You can also use the Association extractor, can avail of sugar at concessionary prices and benefit from the low cost of FIBKA Public Liability Insurance. The latter is an absolute must as accidents can happen.
It is worthwhile if only for your own piece of mind. Whilst a subscription to “An Beachaire” may be optional, a good book is essential and the FIBKA’s “Bees, Hives and Honey” or Ted Hooper’s “Guide to Bees and Honey” are standard references for beginners and experienced alike.
Some Associations also provide a mentoring facility whereby the beginner is assigned to an experienced beekeeper within his or her local area for the purpose of giving advice for the first couple of years. This is an excellent idea as having someone close at hand or at the end of a telephone is a useful asset.
If you wish to keep bees, and irrespective of all the protective measures that you might take, you will receive the occasional sting. Everyone will show some reaction to bee stings, such as the initial pain, and later a slight swelling of the affected area, later followed by some itching.
The effects can be reduced by applying an antihistamine cream or even taking tablets such as Piriton, but generally the body will quickly become accustomed to the occasional sting and will display few adverse effects.
There are many forms of protective clothing on the market which range from veils right through to full bee suits. And the prices are commensurate with the degree of cover. A full bee suit is the ideal acquisition but the prices are fairly steep and it may not be even to your taste.
A smock, together with the type of trousers worn by nurses or painters, may be more suitable.
Be wary of veils which slip over the head and are attached by straps or loops under the armpits; bees invariably find a way to gain access to your neck and face. The safest way to wear that sort of veil is in conjunction with a zip up overall.
Any protective clothing should be light in colour, nothing dark. Nylon should be avoided as it generates static, which is annoying to bees. Woolly clothing should also be shunned, as they get tangled up in it.
When handling bees, beginners should also use gloves. With full gauntlets they are costly but should last several years. I use rubber gloves which are less clumsy – “Nitrile” or “Marigold” brands.
The ultimate objective is to obtain a strain of bee that is not overly defensive, become proficient in handling them, and so dispense with gloves altogether.
Ankles are prime targets for bees and calf length rubber boots should be worn.
The monthly beekeeping journal carries advertisements from firms selling all types of beekeeping equipment. The first two essential items you need to acquire are a smoker and a hive tool.
Smokers come in two standard sizes, the diameters of the fireboxes being 8cms and 10cms. The smaller version is quite adequate for up to ten hives.
When servicing the smoker, ensure that the legs of the fire grate are not restricting the air entry hole at the base of the firebox and also check that this hole is directly in line with the air exit hole from the bellows.
As for fuel, I use dried grass which provides a constant supply of cool smoke. What you don’t want is a type of fuel which burns too quickly and turns your smoker into a flame thrower which scorches the bee’s wings. This aggravates the bees and they will not delay in letting you know of their displeasure.
There are many types of hives available on the Irish market. However, in selecting a hive type it is important to determine that the component parts for the brood chambers and supers are readily available.
The most common type of hives used in Ireland which would measure up to these requirements are the National, the Smith Hive and the Modified Commercial Hive. The approximate comb areas of the various frames are: National and Smith Deep – 5000 worker cells Commercial Deep – 7000 worker cells.
The two most popular hives are the National and the Commercial. Although the latter have larger frames, the outer dimensions of component boxes are the same, to within a quarter of an inch, so that supers, queen excluders, crown boards, floors and roofs are all compatible.
My first choice would be the National hive because it has the following advantages:
The frames are easier to handle as they have longer lugs (38mm) than the Commercial (16mm).
The National brood box and Super are also easier to handle as the design has a built in handle at both sides.
The capacity of the National brood box and super is smaller than that of the Commercial which means it is lighter to lift when examining the hive and taking off the crop of honey.
The most important advantage is the higher honey yield from the National compared to the Commercial as the National brood box is too small to accommodate brood and much stores, therefore most of the honey is stored in the supers where it can be easily taken off for extraction. This is especially true in a bad year with poor weather conditions during the Summer. The Commercial is best suited to localities where the honey crop is above average.
In addition to the brood box, varroa screen floor, crown board, queen excluder and roof you should make provision for three supers per hive.
It is usually best to treat exterior surfaces with a good preservative, like Cuprinol – green or Fencelife and taking care to air well for a week or more. Normal paint stops the wood ‘breathing’ and can lead to moisture lifting the paint in bubbles.
Obtaining your first colony : A Nucleus
By the Spring you will have a good background of knowledge to help you decide on what to buy and how to start up.
It is essential that you start with a healthy and productive stock of bees. You should contact a reputable beekeeper in your region for assistance in obtaining your first colony.
While it is also possible to start by obtaining a swarm, this is an unreliable method and you have no assurance of the health status of the resulting colony.
You may be tempted to buy a strong colony in the hope of a quick return of honey this Summer, but sometimes the difficulty of handling a large stock as a beginner can put a newcomer off for life.
It is far better to arrange with a local beekeeper to buy a four-frame nucleus with a young queen, taking delivery at the end of May or early in June. This is also the time when outdoor open hive demonstrations are organised by your Association where you can learn how to handle and control a stock of bees.
You can now expand this newly acquired nucleus by regular feeding with sugar syrup into a full hive of eleven frames by July. They will be very quiet and easy to handle and as they grow in strength you will gain in experience, confidence and the necessary manual skills of beekeeping.
There will be no swarming problems to cope with in your first year and with autumn feeding the stock will cope with the coldest winter
By the following Spring you will be well placed to increase to two stocks by making an artificial swarm from your own hive in May.
If you have built or acquired a couple of empty hives over the Winter you will also be ready to take or buy in swarms sometime in May or June, and by July you will have at least three good stocks and the experience necessary to manage them.
You should also have a crop of honey and an opportunity to learn the techniques involved in taking it off, extracting, bottling and preparing it for sale.
It will still only be fifteen months since you first owned bees but you have come a long way, and it might be wise to stay with just two or three hives for another year. It is much better to make your mistakes on two or three hives than on twenty. Possibly three hives are all you intend to have anyway.
In either case, make a four frame nucleus from your strongest stock some time in the Summer and see it through the Winter to sell to another beginner, to increase you own stocks or as a reserve in case anything goes wrong.
The Honey Crop
Honey yield is greatly influenced by seasonality. However a beekeeper who attends to the basic principles of management should be able to achieve an average of 20kg per hive per annum.
The yields obtained at the Teagasc Beekeeping Research Station at Clonroche, County Wexford confirm this view. The yield from 75 colonies managed commercially at Clonroche has been 25 kg per colony per annum. This has been achieved by working to a planned programme of management and disease control.
The beginner should be familiar with the varroa control measures as outlined in the FIBKA Guidelines on Varroa Destructor – Integrated Control Programme . The varroa mite is a major threat to the survival of all our bee colonies
Where can I keep my bees?
The newcomer to the craft of beekeeping must decide where to site his or her apiary. Even a small garden is adequate for the keeping of a few hives. Bees fly anything up to three miles to forage so you have no need to worry about that. Even the largest beehive will measure about two feet square and that is all that is needed for each hive, but don’t forget to add a little space to stand along side it to work the colony.
You might like your honeybees but it is unlikely that your neighbour will display the same enthusiasm. Bees have no need to disturb others, whether human or animals, it is just a case of ensuring that their flight paths to and from the hive do not coincide with neighbours working in their gardens. Hives standing in full sun should be avoided, try to provide some midday shade.
Some say that entrances should face south-east to catch the early morning sun. The best layout is to have a hive facing each of the four cardinal points of the compass-one facing north, one facing south etc. This does help to prevent bees drifting from their own hive into another.
Some beekeepers have an out-apiary away from their home and your local Association will have a demonstration apiary for the members to use.
How much time do I need to devote to the bees?
We usually regard the period from October to March as the ‘off-season’ so far as opening up hives, lifting out frames and manipulations generally are concerned, but a limited inspection on a mild day in March can be justified on the grounds that we can only help our bees if we know what help they need. Just three questions have to be answered at this time of year.
Have they a laying queen? In some cases the answer may be obvious; for example if the bees are flying freely around midday and taking in massive loads of pollen, then all is well with the queen.
Have they enough food? If the hive still feels really heavy when hefted, they have enough food. Possibly about 1 hive in 3 will either feel light, or show little flying activity with not much pollen going in, and in these cases some action is required.
What is the natural varroa mite mortality per day? If this figure exceeds seven mites per day then control is necessary using one of the approved treatments. Check the updated F.I.B.K.A. policy on varroa for details. You have to continue with your colony inspections right through the Summer. So the time you need to devote to your bees could be as little as 15 minutes per hive every 10-14 days during the season from April to September. Usually the problem is that new beekeepers are unable to leave the bees alone for the first season.