Retired now (65 last July) I have decided to take up beekeeping (thought about it for years). Like most retired people I am time rich money poor (not quite) and as I have a decent workshop have decided to make all my own kit. I shall be making and using some form of single story long hive. I rent an old farmhouse in the Lincolnshire Wolds (Lincs is NOT flat like people say) at an elevation of 450 ft above sea level. I can see the sea from my garden about 5 miles away and if I walk down the field a little I can see the Humber Estuary (upwards of 30,000 ship movements a year according to the Humber Pilots who are responsible for the shipping lanes). The house stands on its own and our nearest neighbours are just over a mile away. This is a single farmhouse and the village proper is just over 2 miles away. This year we have been surrounded by 200 acres of borage flowers as well as the usual rape and beans on the farm next door. My landlord's farm next year will be wheat although I am sure there will be rape within two miles of the house.
This year, for the borage, the landlord managed to secure the services of 60 hives which didn't arrive until August 8th. The borage had been flowering since the beginning of July and was a grand sight for my birthday party in the garden on July 9th, especially as we have no fences between us and the fields. The borage was cut on the 24th August and is now lying drying in the fields. I am told it will be about 6 weeks before the crop is lifted and shaken for the seeds. This, of course is ground to make Star Flower Oil which, when encapsulated, fetches a high price in the health food shops. A beekeeping expert I met at Thornes reckons that to provide a proper pollination for borage there should be 2 hives per acre. The farm manager tells me that proper pollination can increase the yield of borage seed by a minimum of 25%. Sixty hives put out for less than half the time the crop was in flower sems like a bit of a waste to me.
No-one has been near the hives since they were put down and now the borage has been cut there is very little local forage for the bees. The hives seem to be English Commercials (slightly bigger than a Langstroth) with one brood layer and one super apart from two hives only which have a second super. I suspect that the colonies are sacrificial and will be left to either die or not as nature sees fit.
If they are left over winter I shall have a hive ready and pray for an early swarm next year!!
I am really getting excited about becoming a beekeeper and looking forward to next year.