County Limerick Beekeepers' Association

Association Apiary Archive

Apiary Manager's Report 2015

We started the year with 4 hives and we currently have 5 viable hives. We lost a few swarms in May and June, and some of the hives superceded several times during the summer. 6 nucs were started, 5 from splits and 1 from a caught swarm. Some of these didn't survive, and overall we produced 3 good healthy nucs which were sold to new members. We harvested 80-90 jars of honey, most of which were sold to members.

Early in the year a poll of our members suggested that less than half of them had visited our apiary. Some members of the apiary committee decided that the apiary should be a facility that is used for the benefit of all our members. We decided to hold a members day to explore the possible ways in which this could be done. The first members day was held on 31st May and about 12 members attended. The weather was wet and windy so we couldn't open the hives, but we had several good discussions on a number of topics.

John proposed 3 ideas for ways to make the apiary facility more useful to our members, (1) a queen breeding program, (2) a bee friendly plant propogation program, (3) expanding the apiary beyond the national/commercial models to benefit our members with other types of hives.

Each of these projects would involve a significant amount of effort and money and it would clearly not be possible to get all 3 started in one season. After getting feedback from the attendees, a queen breeding group was the clear favourite option and a group was established shortly afterwards. That group has gained some valuable experience during the course of the summer and we'll be well prepared for the next season.

A spinoff benefit of the members day was that several beekeepers got the chance to meet and talk to people they wouldn't otherwise have met at the monthly lectures. Some of our warre hive owners now know other people with warre hives, which might be valuable to them in the coming years.

A second members day was held on 2nd August, another wet and windy day. This time the attendees were split into groups and took samples of bees from each hive and sent them to Mary Coffey for analysis. We also discussed a number of topics related to beekeeping and again people were introduced to other beekeepers that they wouldn't have met otherwise. The opportunity for meeting and talking to other beekeepers about specific topics is probably the most useful benefit of these events.

Over the 2 events, there were 25 members who visited the apiary. We got 100% positive feedback from all those who participated. The apiary recieved a donation of 10 euros from a grateful member and this was used to pay for a frame holder and some wood.

Members visit to the Association Apiary

The inaugural members event at the association apiary took place on Sunday 31st May 2015. Due to poor weather and a bank holiday weekend only 12 members attended the event.

After the health and safety briefing, John O'Sullivan led the group through a discussion about setting up bait hives/swarm traps. Many of the attendees contributed to the discussion by describing the various approaches they use and sharing their experiences.

Next on the agenda was a demonstration of how to construct a hive floor. The apiary needed a new floor and it was decided that building it in front of an audience was a good use of resources. We got a nice new floor and a useful demonstration/tutorial, and also got to recycle some materials that would have otherwise gone to waste.

It was a win-win-win.

Click here for the low-down on Kewl Floor construction.

Finally, the weather cleared up a bit and we had a tour of the apiary. John O'Sullivan showed the attendees the existing hives and new nucleus boxes, but it was too cold to open any of them. We discussed the swarm that occurred the previous day and possible future plans for the apiary.

We ran over the planned departure time of 5pm, but nobody seemed to mind. Finally, we divided up some bee friendly plants, and also planted a few raspberry canes on a patch of waste ground beside the apiary. Everybody seemed to enjoy the afternoon and there was a constant flow of jokes and banter between the attendees. Some people made contact with others with similar interests, and perhaps that will lead to futher conversations or collaboration in the future. There is a provisional plan to hold another similar event on the last Sunday of June, depending on the level of interest and weather conditions.

John O'Sullivan, Apiary Manager, with special thanks to the Apiary Committee members who helped in organising this event. Photos provided courtesy of Pat Campbell and Pauline Walsh.

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Apiary Managers Report 2014

Introduction :

The year started with extremely stormy weather which caused significant damage to our apiary. One hive was lost when the wind over the Christmas week upended one of the hive stands resulting in the bees in the hive dying because of being completely exposed to the elements. Our wind break was also knocked down by and the roof of our apiary store also suffered significant damage.

Liam Arrigan restored the wind break and added a second wind break at the opposite end of the apiary. These improvements have produced an absolutely ideal environment for our bees and are a great addition to our apiary. Many thanks to Liam for all his work and help during the year and particularly during the period when I was out of action. Thanks also to Sean Flavin for his absolute commitment to the apiary project and also for filling in during the above mentioned time.

Liam, John Nolan and I completed a clean up of the apiary site by removing all of the debris that was deposited by the storm and the new year began with four colonies of bees. These built up extremely well due to the good weather and the ample forage available on Cooper Hill Farm and the surrounding area.

The following purchases were made during the year:

Production at the apiary during 2014

Production of Nucleus hives:

A total of 15 nucleus hives were produced at the apiary and provided to members. This was almost a doubling of our nucleus production from last year. All nucleus hives were headed by a Queen purchased from Galtee Bees, Irene Power or John Summerville.

Honey production:

It was an excellent year for honey production and despite the reduction in colony sizes by making splits for nucleus hives. A total of 144 jars of honey were produced.

10 jars were given to the farm manager as an acknowledgement of his kindness in letting us continue to use Cooperhill Farm for our apiary site. A further 6 jars were given to Mrs O Connor for donating her late husbands beekeeping equipment to the association. This equipment while old would be eminently suitable for a beginner beekeeper to reduce the costs of getting involved in the noble art. Thanks are also due to Sean O Mochain for organising the donation of the above equipment and to Liam Arrigan for collecting the equipment and transporting it to the Apiary. Four jars were given to John Furey who facilitates all our meetings in Mungret GAA clubhouse as a small token of our appreciation.

If anyone is interested in restoring this equipment please drop me an e-mail and I will try to facilitate them.

Other activities carried out at apiary:

A total of 6 visits to the apiary were organised by Donal Cooper for our beginners' class. 20 beginners availed of at least one opportunity to see the apiary and get practice in handling bees and equipment.

The FIBKA beginners' examinations were held out at the apiary for the second year. Irene Power kindly fulfilled the role of external examiner and Liam Arigan, Donal Cooper and Gus Mc Coy provided facilities on the day. Many thanks to all who helped in running this exam and congratulations to those who sat the exams and successfully passed.

Looking forward to 2015:

We currently have 5 colonies out at the apiary, all headed by new Queens purchased during the year. We have been careful to use Queens from 3 different sources in order to avoid inbreeding. It is hoped to produce some nucleus hives at the apiary next year but not on the same scale as 2014 due to the commitment involved.

As all the equipment is now paid for and all further earnings from the apiary will go towards development and education. It is our intention to run an intermediate course this year and the apiary will form a fundamental part of the course work.

Many thanks to the following for all their help and work at the apiary during 2014.

The apiary committee.

Thanks also to John Holton for continuing to allow us to use Cooper Hill farm as our Apiary site and for his support during the year.

Many thanks to Gus Mc Coy for his constant support for the Apiary project and for organising cover during my absence.

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Apiary Managers Report 2013

Introduction :

The year started with extremely cold and windy weather in March and April, we had 5 colonies going into the winter and only one loss, this was due to a drone laying Queen. A wooden panel fence was added at the start of the year and this greatly improved the climate for the bees producing a wind free cosy site. Given the general level of losses of colonies after last winter the low level of losses at the apiary was very good.

While colonies were slow enough to build up, once the season got going our bees did exceptionally well and 2013 turned out to be one of the best honey production seasons for many years.

A clean up day was held in early March with a 100% turn out by the apiary committee, the site was given a comprehensive clean up and improvements were made by adding a door to the our storage shed at the apiary. A sincere thanks to all concerned and particularly to Liam Arigan for his work in purchasing and erecting the door and the wooden panelling, and adding a shelf to the storage building.

The following purchases were made during the year:

Production at the apiary during 2013

Production of Nucleus hives: A total of 8 nucleus hives were produced at the apiary and provided to members. This was a big step forward for our association and we hope to build substantially on this number in the coming year. We also restored the number of colonies at the apiary to 5.

Honey production: It was an excellent year for honey production and despite the reduction in colony sizes by making splits for nucleus hives. A total of 150 jars for honey were produced.

12 jars were given to the farm manager as an acknowledgement of his kindness in letting us continue to use Cooperhill Farm for our apiary site. A further 6 jars were given to for kindly organising the printing of our new logo, another great step forward for our association.

Queen rearing: Despite significant effort by the members of the apiary committee, only Queens for the nucleus hives were produced during the year. This seems to have been a feature of the particular year and other much more experienced Queen producers have reported similar problems.

Other activities carried out at apiary:

The first FIBKA beginner's examinations were held out at the apiary this year. Irene Power kindly fulfilled the role of external examiner and Liam Arigan provided facilities on the day. Many thanks to all who helped in running this exam and congratulations to those who sat the exams and successfully passed and received their certificates. This is a big step forward as it now allows us to schedule our own exams at our apiary facility. Going forward it is hoped to increase this usage and encourage more members to sit other FIBKA examinations.

Those who sat the beginners course were offered a visit to the apiary and while not everyone could make the journey on the day; those who did saw all the facilities available and were able to see the docility of the apiary bees at first hand.

Looking forward to 2014:

We currently have 5 colonies out at the apiary, it is hoped to double brood the best of these in the spring and to embark on production as many nucleus colonies as there is demand for from our members. In order to streamline this production we are looking at purchasing approx 20 Queens from Galtee Bee Breeders and to use these to directly head the nucleus colonies. This will improve substantially the general quality of colonies in the area, and help to guard against some of the problems we have all experienced with open mating of Queens. (Banding and cross bees)

A new ordering form for the supply of colonies from the apiary is now available and this will help streamline the provision of nucleus hives and enable us to predict demand more accurately.

A sincere thank you is necessary to Sean Flavin for all his guidance and help in the management of the apiary over the last year and since it was set up. I think it is an irrefutable fact that we would not be in our current strong position without his help. Thank you also to Conan Mc Donnel for his help in coordinating the supply of nucleus to members over the past year. Thank you also to all the members of the apiary committee for their work during the year. Finally thank you to Liam Arigan, Gus Mc Coy and Se\E1n \D3 Mochain for all their help, support, and endless patience.

For the Latest Pictures from the Association Apiary:

please click here

Photos and reports from the Association Apiary from previous years:


Update Sunday 3rd March 2013.

Photographs by Frank Corbett

Report by Paul Brennan

These photos were taken on Sunday March 3rd.  Basically it was a day to clean up the apiary.   A very large area was cleared of debris and some weeds.   Block (carpet) was put down with the intention of creating an area to produce plants for the bees.   As you can well understand no hives were opened due to the really cool weather.

Everyone was in attendance and it was very encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm evident. Thanks are due to: Tomas Collins, Paul Brennan, Sean Flavin, John Nolan, Ber Murphy, Conan Mc Donnell, Liam Arrigan, Michael Reilly and Frank Corbett.

Our next outing will probably be Sunday 28th April but again this is very weather dependent and the the forecast going forward is still for low temperatures!


Apiary comittee members, wheelbarrows, shovels and brooms at the ready, stop to discuss tactics.        
The barrow boys are planning to clean up!

Two national hives on a stand plus one very odd-looking yoke.
Two hives yes, but is that a miniature nuclear-powered washing machine I see?

Group photo of eight apiary volunteers equipped with brooms, wheelbarrows and shovels.
Plenty of willing hands available.

Two hives standing ready. Stones
	on top to keep lids from blowing off.       
The hives are ready but the exceptionally cold late spring is yet to arrive.

Hives in position on stands.
All the hives are ready and in position on their stands. The bees are waiting for the weather to warm up!

Update Sunday 5th May (from 3pm).

Photographs by Frank Corbett

Report by Paul Brennan

In attendance Paul Brennan, Sean Flavin, Liam Arrigan, Ber Murphy, John Nolan, Michael Reilly, Frank Corbett, Tomas Collins.

Prior to visit, a new steel door was installed on the shed to secure same. Lock added, access confined to apiary committee members. Two wooden panels erected to provide shelter for hives and improve climate for bees. All this work was completed by Liam Arrigan.

Work completed. Brought shelves and a table out to the apiary and installed in shed, both provided by myself at no cost to the our association, transport provided by Tomas Collins.

Examined hives.

Transferred contents of polystyrene nucleus to full hive.

Transferred contents of other nucleus (3 frames) to polystyrene nucleus.

All hives have laying Queen and lots of brood, no evidence of any disease.

Current stock is 4 full hives and one nucleus i.e 5 stocks of bees.

Continued feeding nucleus and weaker hives.

Apiary comittee members, sorting out eqipment.       
Getting organised. Note Liams' new wooden panels!

Apiary comittee members gather round to inspect a hive.       
What do we think?

One of the first frames to be inspected: we have some bees.       
Yes,we have some bees alright...

A frame with brood including drone-brood.       
..and even some drone cells.

Apiary comittee members, planting bee-friendly trees.       
Bee-friendly dairy farmers at work?

For more photos taken on the same day please click here.

Latest Pictures from the Association Apiary

Preliminary Examination at the Association Apiary(Examiner:Irene Power)

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Members: Joe Harney, Gus McCoy, Frank Corbett, John Nolan and Liam Arrigan attending
the preliminary exam with Irene Power (examiner), Saturday 11th of May.


Varroa floor: the tray is clearly visible through the screen and this, if I am not mistaken,
is a rare case of an election poster serving a useful purpose!


Underside of varroa floor showing groove for tray.