the not-so-secret diary of paddy mcinnes: international rower, honey lover and budding apiarist

But being at the top of your game internationally can have its drawbacks. Transitioning from elite sport to career opportunities can be tough, especially after an Olympic or World Championship campaign. As he’s also a keen apiarist in training, The true Honey Co. recently leapt at the chance to bring him into the True Team for a stint of work experience in October. He also let us take a peek at his diary…

“Work experience is the hardest part of being a full time athlete. You don't get the employment opportunities, and generally all job interviews require some form of experience. For athletes, much like a climber, getting to the top of the mountain is only half the battle, getting back down safely can be equally as challenging. There are many influences on how athletes decompress and make decisions after a pinnacle event. This is why I've jumped to at the opportunity to work with The True Honey Co. post World Champs. Here’s a recap of what I did, who I met and what I learned as part of the team.”

 Monday 9 October

Met with Laurence, Paul and The True Honey Co. team. Site induction health and safety. Warehouse work cleaning queen excluders. (These are barriers placed inside the hives that let worker bees but not the larger queens and drones through.)

 Tuesday 10 October

Working with Sam and Amanda

  • Making queen cell capped cell bars.
  • Grafting queens. Removing 3-4 day old larvae and placing into queen cell caps where they went back into a queenless hive.
  • Pulling cells. Removing the capped queen cells from cell bar and placing into a portable incubator.

 Wednesday 11 October

With Jamie, George and Jack

  • Splitting hives and making nucs. preparing boxes with two drawn comb frames and one honey feed frame. (A nuc, or nucleus colony, is a small honey bee colony created from a larger one.)
  • Pulling brood. Observing the quality and strength of hives, finding the queen first, then taking out brood frames and replacing with drawn comb. The retrieved brood frames are placed into the nuc boxes.
  • Feeding colonies. Colonies were given quarter full feed of sugar syrup into feeder frames.

 Thursday 12 October

  • New site for nuc boxes. Clear and cut space for boxes. Open hive doors and place virgin queen into nuc box in a queen cage with candy in entrance. Worker bees will eat their way to the queen, by this time her pheromones will be accepted throughout the hive. She will then have a mating flight.
  • Hive maintenance checks on apiary sites
  • Swarm control

 Friday 13 October

  • Preparing hives for dump site
  • Single hives that are going to be travelling north are 8 frames of brood 2 frames of honey. Double box hives have a queen excluder placed between boxes to keep queen in the first brood box for travel.

 Tuesday 17 October

  • Preparing hives for Northland and transport
  • Two honey supers are placed atop of brood box with queen excluder. Hive mat placed on top of the honey supers and a box of Manuka specials (new foundation comb) placed on top. Covered and strapped down onto a pallet of four.

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