Cake testing time at the apiary

Autumn has come to the apiary. Crisp dry leaves litter the floor. Some flowers are still around – purple michaelmas daisies, ivy and the last of the himalayan balsam along canal banks. The bees come and go, but no longer in the same numbers or with the urgency they had earlier in the season.  They are winding down, preparing for the long retreat.

apiary in autumn

I took Tommy for his first visit to the apiary. He seemed to enjoy the attention of being the youngest beekeeper there, even if he couldn’t join in with the cake testing. He was asleep when I first got to the apiary but woke up just as I started topping up the feeders with syrup, so no time for further beekeeping! Luckily big Tom was able to transfer our smallest colony into a poly nuc for winter. I have never overwintered a nuc so fingers crossed.

Tommy at the apiary

We had a triple whammy of sweet treats this week – Clare’s chocolate and banana bread, Jones’s lemon honey cake and my chocolate biscuits. Plus tea of course.

Jonesy was testing his lemon honey cake for the National Honey Show at the end of October. The recipe it has to be made to is on the National Honey Show website (class 85). Most of us thought the cake was very nice, moist and light, though not everyone agreed and he did also get some feedback that it was too dry! Does anyone have any tips for winning the cake class? I quite fancy making the honey fruit cake recipe.

Here’s a little bee climbing up inside a lily.

Bee in lily

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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17 Responses to Cake testing time at the apiary

  1. Budleigh Bee says:

    What a lovely read. I have only just found your website and am now following 🙂

    I became a beekeeper myself in May of this year, and a little anxious as to what happens at this time of year, so it’s a real help reading what others do. Living in Devon, we have an abundance of Himalyan balsam which is still flowering and the girls come back with white pollen all over them. The ivy has just started flowering and today I saw quite a few honey bees, hover flies and a hornet (European) all busy on one patch of ivy in the sunshine.

    Hoping the weather holds for tomorrow as I’ll be getting my girls ready for hunkering down for the winter months. As a newbee, I didn’t know the QE has to be removed – learnt that today from talking to some other beekeepers – last thing I want is for my girl Lizzie to be stranded the other side when the colony clusters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thelivesofk says:

    Emily, that is a wonderful narrative and so nice to see little Tommy on a day out. I do hope that the bees do well this autumn and winter, and I wish that Amelia and I could have shared the honey cake. – Kourosh


  3. It won’t be long before Tommy can start acquiring his cake eating skills, in the meantime, they all look so good that they must disappear rapidly. Our honey was so different in taste this year. The summer honey was yellow and granular as there was a lot of sunflower in it but the flavour was excellent. We just took off a little filled honey from the top of the frames before starting the treatment and it was very liquid and herby as there had been a lot of thyme around. I find these different tastes fascinating! Amelia


  4. Emily, Tommy is a little darling. What a cutie. One day he will be helping you with the bees, but I bet he tries cake long before!


  5. It appears that it was great fun for all, I’ll have to research the cake recipe, that sounds interesting.


  6. elsa pawley says:

    Hi Emily, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but the little sleep lullabye is called a Slumber Buddie . I got it from Mothercare on line . Hope it helps Elsa xx

    Sent from my iPad


  7. Pingback: Cake testing time at the apiary — Adventuresinbeeland’s Blog – Ealing and District Beekeepers Association

  8. theresagreen says:

    Your lovely boy is growing so fast; he’ll be ‘helping’ you with the bees in no time! The honey cake sounds delicious, may have to try making that one. Hope you have a good honey harvest.


    • Emily Scott says:

      Thanks Theresa. I do hope he will be a bee fan! I tried making the cake and found it cooked faster than I expected, despite giving it 15 mins less than suggested. So I had a burnt cake. Keep an eye on it if you make it!


  9. bec says:

    Looks like a lot of fun! We have the same thing planned soon, our autumn will start in a month or so. I’m thinking about starting a blog and documenting as well, looks quite nice.


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