25 folk gathered at Gareth’s rural apiary to listen and learn from his 50 years’ experience and experimentation. We were honoured to be joined by Filipe Salbany (of Blenheim Woods fame) with a different set of 50 years’ experience, and everyone left with their heads buzzing with new concepts and hard facts contradicting conventional wisdom.
This outdoors meeting was the first for a couple of years where we shared food, which is always a jolly, bonding experience. Intermittent showers sent us scampering towards cover and huddling.
Major topics were hive design and tradeoffs compared to natural nests, swarm behaviour and genetics, spinning off into many side topics like wax moth and propolis.
It’s worth mentioning how this meeting was arranged around the bee lifecycle. Gareth chose June because in July, his bees will be in a mild forage gap and opening hives without protection would be inadvisable. He never opens hives in August, because it triggers robbing. In September another flow (ivy) begins and it is safe to open them again without hordes of starving wasps descending. Even so, he judged the day too breezy to open the hives safely and after gently peeling back a couple of top cloths to check temper, he chose not to pull out any combs. So, yes, the photo shows us among hives without protection, but not recklessly, and avoiding flight paths.