Tough year for Bees in Tuscany
As part of ensuring that Tenuta Le Mandorlaie supported and grew the eco systems around our farm it was always my plan to add bee’s to the farm in order to aid with pollination and to add another quality product to sell to our customers online and from our farm directly, the sale of Italian honey. I have been studying beekeeping online and reading as much as I can as well as talking to an italian beekeeper mentor who helpfully answered questions gave advise and with whom I could bounce ideas off for our new apiary.
So it was early spring, I had ordered 3 hives, bee keeping suits for Marthese & I as well as ll the associated tools to work with bees, and the required oxalic acid used to keep the bees clean from mites which can radically affect the health of the bees.
All was going to plan
Everything was going to plan, I had designated an area for the hives, it protected them from both north and south winds as well as being close enough to access easily and for them to be close to many food sources, our trees, the acacia trees, lavender, the wild flowers in the olive groves, the rosemary hedges and the clover in the vineyards. I was ready to start on my journey of beekeeping.
Frost and -2
All it took was one night in March, weeks before we were due to receive our bees. With a cold artic front moving through Italy it decimated the flowering trees, and affected all the food sources of the bees, it was a disaster and would have repercussions for beekeepers all over Italy. So what did it mean to bees, with no food sources available it was down to the beekeeper to feed the bees a syrup or sugar cakes in order to keep the hives operating and surviving, this was to be a very bad year for beekeeping with the cost to keep feeding bees high, but with no other choice beekeepers across Italy fed there bees for the spring, waiting for the next bloom of trees and flowers that would arrive in summer.
No bees in 2021
After the news and seeing what was happening to beekeepers across Italy I decided it was not the year to start my beekeeping, it would be financially 3 times as expensive to keep feeding bees and there was the chance that my bee families would remain small, and possibly due to the conditions not grow or be able to get enough food resources to see them through winter, normally honey is left in the hive for the bees to live on through the low months of cold and no food. I will try again in spring 2022, it will be a better year I am sure and I would have learnt more from my studies and mentor, even if it is not lessons practically learnt, the knowledge found will hopefully allow me to make better decisions and keep my bees healthy.