• Arlene Dunkley-Wood

Beekeeping during Covid19

The joys of beekeeping during 2020 during the Covid19 pandemic


To say the least this has been a very strange year.


What has it been like to be a beekeeper during this pandemic? Well for Arlenesbreadandhoney, its been pretty full on. My bees in Walthamstow, London E17, have been extremely busy. As a result we had already extracted our first batch of honey by the end of May. Something which is unheard of. My usual time for extraction is end of August. So for those climate change deniers. Nature does not lie or fabricate the truth of what is happening to our climate.


It has been a very warm May and we have had warm weeks in June, July and now August. In the 30s "Where am I? " I could hardly cope with the heat of Jamaica last year, when my daughter and I took our pilgrimage to our ancestral home of JA.


So, back to beekeeping. The bees have been on form. Not much swarming as I have been very occupied with being ultra vigilant this year, in my inspections. I do think I have lost one swarm, as one hive has less bees; but we haven't appeared to have disturbed the neighbours much.


I did have a few accidents with Queens. Rather clumsy in trying to mark her and accidently damaged two. As usual when your are trying to be gentle, and worried not to do any harm; you become clumsy. Lesson of this year. LEAVE THE QUEEN ALONE!. My mentor used to say, "Bees have survived, dispite beekeepers." He is absolutely right.


So far we have extracted close to 500lb weight in honey and this is a bumper crop for me. We may have to do a last extraction at the end of August and then the preparation for Autumn/winter begins. The queen will be already laying eggs for the winter bees.


The winter bees will survive in a smaller cluster for 6 months from October - March and then the queen will start laying again for the spring, and off we go again. At that time she lays around 2000 eggs a day.


If this weather keeps up with a India summer; the season may extend into the Autumn who knows.


It does seem like the honey flow has dried up a bit and the bees are foraging nearer to home.


We are down to 5 hives right now. Which is manageable. I had contemplated giving up last year, but the bug is still in me and I think I will continue for a few years more.


If you want to enjoy some of my delicious, urban, London honey please go to the store and buy now. We have good packaging now to make postal deliveries. Trying to source a reasonable courier right now.


Covid19 hasn't caused my bees any harm. They are as busy as ever. Maybe they are getting more necture as everyone is a little bit more helpful, in planting out bee friendly plants. My bees are currently on budhlia, lavender, thistles, clover in our garden. If you live in the Walthamstow area, they may have visited your garden also.


You do know that honey is antiseptic, and has tones of minerals, trace elements and a excellent source of predisgested sugar, which boosts your immune system.


If you are a hayfever sufferer, the season should have gone by now, but it is a good idea to have a spoon full of honey each day, to help your immunity. Don't just take it in the spring, but throughout the year.


New Market: Arlenesbreadandhoney and arlenescakeandbakes (gluten free cakes): Today with the help of my sons girlfriend; Arlenescakesandbakes, are now at William Ellis School in Parliament Hill, 2nd & maybe 4th Sunday of the month from September, but also at Walthamstow Farmers Market 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month.

Please come by to buy, but if you are in need before then, drop me a line; make your order and come and collect or pay for postage to receive it asap.


Keep well and healthy. Arlene

Doula Beekeeper, Gluten Free baker

From hive to jar with a help from a few million bees

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© 2020 Arlene Dunkley-Wood