Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beekeeping Workshop at Raglan.

Yesterday I spent a remarkably good day out at a small, quirky seaside town on the West coast, about 40 mins drive from where I live. I had been asked by the local Whaingaroa (Raglan) enviro centre, along with a friend who lives out there and who has a hive, to put on a beekeeping workshop. The picture above is the view from Barbara and Pat`s gorgeous home, nestled in the bush on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean - I was in heaven !!
This is not a flattering photo of Barbara, but does show her lighting her smoker - she, like me, has trouble keeping it going at times !! After we had finished the demonstration at the hive the flaming thing sent up yards of smoke after going out acouple of times when we needed it - murphy`s law !

A healthy looking frame with pollen and nectar starting to be brought in - the hive is on the side of a hill with a great view out to the sea and native bush. There are a number of trees flowering, Pohutukawa, Karo ( Pittosporum crassifolium), Kowhai, (Sophora tetraptera) and alot of Kanuka which will flower later. Barbara always get a good yield of honey which a yummy bush flavour.

Most of the class had brought their bee gear or borrowed some. It wasn`t a great day weather-wise, but we opened the hive for a short time so everyone could get an idea of what it looks like inside a working hive. Barbara took out acouple of frames, one with brood and the beginnings of a queen cell. Barbara keeps black bees which were the original English honey bees and has mixed with Italians and Carniolins over time - they still are alot more aggresive then the others, which is why she keeps them as they have a big problem with wasps killing hives over summer and autumn in bush areas.

Above is the group shot - me being at the front on the left - I usually avoid photos, but I figured being that far back I might fade into the distance ! Everyone is very keen to keep bees which is what I feel so passionate about - getting the word out there and showing people that it isn`t hard and you are not going to get stung to death if you do it properly and wear the correct protective clothing. They were amazed at the fact I don`t wear gloves - I put my hand gently into the hive to demonstrate that bees are generally far too busy going about their business to stop and sting something that isn`t hurting them !

Last but certainly not least, here is a photo of a puffed up Tui - all very territorial at the moment, swooping from tree to tree and vocal ! Tui are a NZ native bird, quite big and have the ability to mimic a huge range of other birds and human sounds. There was a story about them in the old days when our beautiful bush was being felled, Tui would mimic the axe chopping and the voices of the men. If you listen closely you can hear snippets of other bird song plus a creaky door and then a beautiful melodious tune - very clever birds. They are an irridecent black/bluey green with a white fluffy piece under their chin, hence the name `parson bird` by early settlers. They make quite a loud wooshing sound when they fly, are bossy and tend to chase smaller birds away - there were so many out at Barbara and Pat`s place, I am very envious . . .
Well, that was my day, I caught up with my eldest daughter Meg before I left the township, Meg and my grandaugher, Lia, have lived at Raglan for about 10 yrs now, if I didn`t have to commute every day I would live there to - it is still NZ as it was but with all the mod cons and far enough away from the cities to be peaceful. Lots of very interesting people live there, wonderful artists in all mediums, folk whose families settled there over a hundred years ago - a real mixture. I drove home after calling in to see friends and pick up free range eggs, with a contented smile and mark knoffler playing his magic guitar - it is good to be alive !!


Lynn said...

What an amazing post. Now I am learning a lot about your country! So glad to have a new friend.

The last time I opened my hives, my smoker did the same thing, struggled all through my work and then smoked like crazy for the next 30 minutes. Drives me crazy.

Mark Knoffler and Dire Straits ROCK! Had the opportunity to see them many years ago. Still a favorite in my Ipod.

Cally said...

It was a good day indeed - and I am so enjoying catching up with you again after all these years :)