In a major departure from my usual Saturday routine I got up bright and early. Normally I don't see Saturday mornings, glancing out of the window I was met by a warm sunny day and and the sight of a suspiciously well fed pigeon picking grass seeds from my very recently reseeded lawn. After a feeding the cats, checking Facebook, checking Instagram and getting a coffee I decided this year I'd try flogging a couple of nucs. I've got three National Nucs from previous bee purchases and as I use Commercial brood boxes they're very little use to me. One's on top of an outbuilding as a bait hive but the only things attracted to it seems to be spiders the size of your hand, I decided to leave it up there for now. The other two Nucs I scorched and scraped. I found that the ply of one was delaminating so it probably wasn't really sellable so decided to leave it. Finally armed with my chequebook and the one good, spider free, Nuc I set of for Woodmansey. I didn't need anything in particular this year but was hoping to pick up a travel screen as I now have bees in two locations.
When I rolled up there was a row of brand new National Hives outside the Hall and in the field behind the bee colonies were lined up behind a rope. Inside the hall there was 8 rows of wares ranging from bee hives to boilers.
|Three of the many National Hives on offer|
|Feeders, a Wax Melter, Hives, Petunias, you name it it was probably there.|
First thing I looked at was the little selection of beekeeping books. One that was pointed out to me was a nondescript looking book with a handwritten replacement cover. Turns out it was a 1952 first edition of The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee by Dorothy Hodges.
|A colour plate from The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee|
|Unused, painted, complete Poly Hive|
|Poly Nucs with built in feeders|
|A couple of the Display Hives that were on offer|
|The majority of kit for sale this year was new rather than used|
|Extractors, powered or manual|
|Smokers of all ages, some painted.|
I picked up the little red one.
There were a few boilers dotted about the place. Not something you'd initially associate with beekeeping but useful things. I picked one up a few years ago intending to use it to clean frames but now use it for making gallons of syrup, other things people use them for include wax extraction and mead making. I think the Burco went for £8.
|Tea or coffee, by the gallon.|
|Great for drying clothing or extracting Heather Honey|
Moving outside there were, I think, 19 colonies in total. Mostly they were in full size brood boxes with a only a few in 5 or 6 frame Nucs, towards the end there were some 12 frame double poly nucs. The bee prices were unpredictable as ever. A 5 frame Nuc with a 2015 Queen went for £130 another for £110. At this point it was getting a little nippy so I popped back inside to get my hoody, when I came back there a populated National brood box being auctioned and the bidding was at £90. I hadn't really planned to buy any bees on the day and hadn't actually heard the details of the colony but as it seemed to be going so cheaply I thought I'd put in a couple of bids. I got them for £110 which is less than any of the three Nucs I've bought previously. Later turned out what I'd got for my money was 10 frames of bees and 6 frames of brood with a 2015 Queen. Bargain.
|Bees for sale, about 5 workers for a penny.|
In previous years people have stood up to the rope but this time the bees were a little feisty so most folk were stood back, except one chap seemed happy to let a bee sit on his forehead till it lost interest. I think allthe bees sold with the double Nucs fetching £160 apiece. Shortly after the bee auction it started raining heavily, which is possibly why the bees were a little unhappy.
Back inside about 20 boxes of jars and lids were quickly auctioned off. I picked up a big sack of 65mm jar lids on the off chance they'd fit some jars I have -they didn't so they'll probably go on eBay at some point. Noteable bargains, other than the bees, were a guy from Goole who got a honey warming cabinet made from a converted fridge for £1 and someone else bagging 50 DN4 frames for £25. I got my Travel Screen for £1. There were a few plants for sale but they didn't generate much interest, a few trays of Petunia's failed to sell and I got 12 pots of Chives for £2. I unsuccessfully bid on some Snelgrove type boards but lost out, think there was two lots of two. I'll have to make some more this summer.
|£5 went a long way|
|One Handed Queen Catcher|
Other gubbins I picked up were some small over trousers -they were thrown in with the smoker I bought, an icing sugar dusting screen, a Thornes English Feeder and a stainless steel uncapping tray which had previously belonged to Preston Honey going by the sign thrown in with it.
I also picked up a copy of Maurice Marterlinck's The Life of the Bee translated by Alfred Sutro and published by George Allen & Unwin. It was originally penned in 1901, I'm not sure what year this copy was published but the last date listed was 1912 and a previous owner, one W.D. Holmes, wrote their name in it in 1941. Beekeeping has changed a lot since 1901, the Varroa Mite wasn't here, neither was American Foul Brood, Tracheal Mite hadn't raised it's head, our bees were black, farming practices and land management was totally different too but I think it should be an interesting read.
|The blackened travel screen in the middle was just what I was looking for|