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Thread: Beekeeping in the Western Isles

  1. #1
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    Default Beekeeping in the Western Isles

    Hi there,
    My husband and I are interested in bees and beekeeping, but are unsure if there's any that are suitable for our location. Does anyone know if there's any bees that are fairly wind resistant and would do well here?

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    Banned Stromnessbees's Avatar
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    Hi smeesue and welcome to the forum!

    There are some beekeepers in the Western Isles, I am not sure if any of them are on the forum yet.
    I am in Orkney and and it gets pretty windy here, too. We stick to the dark/native bees, as they are the most suitable for this kind of climate. Be sure to get your bees locally and you should be able to get lots of advise at the same time.
    It is important that you chooose your apiary site carefully. Out of the worst of the weather but not in a damp hole.

    Best of luck, Doris

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Hi Smeesue

    Excellent advice from Doris. Yes, there are people from the Western Isles registered on the forum and I'm sure that you will find them helpful. If you are anywhere near Stornoway there will be a meeting next Monday 26th April (Mission House, next to Lava's Garage) at 6pm. The purpose is to try to formally establish a local beekeeping association for the Western Isles, one of a network of such associations linked to the Scottsh Beekeepers' Association. It might be a good opportunity to meet local beekeepers and hear of their experiences.

    There are beekeepers on Mull, Colonsay, Lewis, Orkney, Shetland, and the coastal fringes of the mainland including Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness and Argyll. In Wester Ross and probably elsewhere there are surviving wild colonies in croft roofs, so although beekeeping will be challenging, in favoured spots it certainly is possible.

    As Doris mentioned you should try to get bees locally. This can be difficult as there are many people now looking for bees and stocks are low in many places. However in your environment keeping the bees alive will be challenge enough in some years, and the frugal, adapted native types (known to fly in cooler conditions) are definitely the way to go. Some have bought in bees from afar and - without realising - spread the Varroa mite to new areas and diluted the adapted genetics of local bees. Some places are more sensitive than others in that they may not have the Varroa mite or they may be trying to maintain the native strain, so as Doris says local advice is invaluable.

    best wishes

    Gavin

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    Welcome, Smeesue, and I hope you'll be able to get to the Stornoway meeting. I'll just re-iterate what everyone else has said regarding getting hold of local bees - they're lovely to work with and buying locally helps to stop mainland problems spreading to the isles. If you can't get to Stornoway, if you PM me I'll send contact details.

  5. #5
    Senior Member POPZ's Avatar
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    Smeesue ?? I wonder what that stands for??

    I just want to welcome you on the forum and hope you find it both instructive and enjoyable. Great to see that you have already asked a very sensible question, got some answers and hopefully you keep that up - lots of questions with some differing answers, but that is the joy of beekeeping!

    All the best, and welcome aboard. POPZ

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    hi smeesue, maybe someone at the meeting on moday might have some bees to spare in june,,july if they dont want to keep doubling up, those bees would have been bred in the island and should be more adjusted,,after the cold this winter and spring I am going to cover all my hives in bubble wrap for next winter,,might see you at the meeting,,kenny

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Did the meeting go well last night?

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    Hi - just joined after I was looking for info on beekeeping in Lewis. We are moving up to the westside in June/July, and I had wondered if any beekeeping went on there. I completed the beginners course with the Edinburgh group last year, but haven't started keeping bees as yet. Very excited to read this thread and see that it does actually happen.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Did the meeting go well last night?
    Hi Gavin, eight to ten turned up, I can't be sure, as they were moving around to keep warm, BUT!! the guy with the key to the shed didn't turn up, so we had a wee yarn beside the road untill the wind kind of blew us away. We're still looking for the guy with the key to give him a severe talking to

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Kenny and All

    When I read this with my coffee this morning - and please, nobody take offence - there was a small explosion as I thought that this was the most entertaining thing I'd seen for a long while! You paint such a vivid picture Kenny, with such humour. A private correspondent has likened it to the writing of the great Flann O'Brien. If I knew how to put five gold stars up there I would.

    So - I am sorry that the meeting ended that way (couldn't you adjourn to the pub?!) and hope that you can try again soon (after you track down the man with the key!).

    G.

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