December & January notes from the Abbey Beekeeper

Eggnog Recipe

4 eggs

3 tablespoons honey

1.25 pints milk

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A pinch of grated nutmeg

A pinch of sea salt

Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until stiff. Blend in the yolks and then add the remaining ingredients, mixing until smooth. Delicious served hot (do not boil) or cold.

I walked past a hazel grove yesterday and saw catkins beginning to lengthen. It is always heartening to see them preparing for Spring.  And now having passed December 21st things are looking brighter already!

Catkins are the male flowers of the hazel and they produce the male gamete for fertilization. The female flower, which gives rise to the hazel nut, consists of small, bright red threads which stretch up into the air to catch the passing pollen blowing on the wind.  There are very few of them and can generally be found later in the year on exposed twigs.

I read an interesting piece on nutritional supplements for bees. There are some very positive reports on using supplements. The key ingredient is ‘a combination of marine bio-active compounds which have anti-fungal, ant-viral and anti-bacterial properties.’ It also contains thymol which helps against nosema.

The impact of feeding supplements was reported by Philip McCabe in the Irish Beekeeper.

Eight days after being treated, hives had newly drawn pearly white wax and the bees exuded energy and urgency. They were also more docile and had a healthy look about them.

It sounds like something we should try in the new beekeeping year.

While things are quite it is useful to plant some shrubs or trees that provide pollen and nectar early in the season. Some examples would be willow or blackthorn to provide pollen and nectar early in the year.  Cherry and apple blossom also helpful. Holly produces flowers during the so called ‘June Gap’ and has copious flowers. It has separate male and female trees. Only the females will have berries!

I hope you have a happy and peaceful Christmas. We can always dream of the new season approaching and be hopeful for a bumper year!