And it starts…

With the warm winter, I expected spring to arrive early.

Sakura trees are budded and ready to explode, but will boom later than last year and this years predicted forecast.

Queen cells are already built in the stronger hives and drone brood looks good…

Trap boxes are waxed up and counting down the days.

Counting down the days.

Sumoto Castle

Pre-Sakura

Almost the end of March and it’s still a little cold at dusk. Thirty minutes before sundown on a windless day with my hands starting to freeze I powered up the drone and engaged (don’t you love that word 🙂 ) the camera mode.

When I first purchase the drone I envisioned myself videoing the Japanese countryside with its acclaimed, for the price the 4K camera, now all I want to shoot is still photos with it… Oh! how I get things wrong.

Dusk over Sumoto City
Sumoto Castle

Sumoto Castle

The Drone

Introducing the Anafi drone from the French company parrot. She’s compact and has a great camera, but lacks obstacle avoidance sensors… do I need those? Only time will tell.

As a proficient drone pilot with two hours of flight time under my belt 🙂 I felt it was time for a challenge because we all love a challenge, don’t we…

The Castle

Sumoto castle has been a favourite of mine since moving here all those many years ago. My Showa era apartment, with its Japanese style toilet Washiki Benjo 和式便所, cold water only bathroom and head-banging brain cell losing door frames was and still is located at the base of Mt.Mikuma the mountain, which is really a hill 🙂

After work on many occasion, I would make my way up the gruelling when drunk path to view the city light nights below, alas the view from the castle was mediocre, trees had taken root and were obscuring the city view…boo…

Fast forward twenty years. The city must have scored a ton of cash from somewhere, They had decided to clean up the castle. A new public toilet was built, and trees on the East side were cut down to make sweet as picnic area. Trees on the North side were also mowed down, thus exposing the amazing once hidden stone foundations.

Droning at the present time is allowed around the castle, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (国土地理院) has an online map to show you restricted places to drone. Any area not in red is fine as long as you follow the Japanese drone rules and laws.

Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (国土地理院)

Why aren’t I?

Droning and taking time lapses of the castle, Hell even just more photos? It’s only a stone’s throw away. Funny how we fail to see what is in front of us.

Dusk and the Castle

Akashi-kakyo bridge tour

At almost 4km long, surviving a 7.2 magnitude earthquake before the competition the Akashi Bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the world.

This tour runs between April and November, the trip is 2 hours long, Twenty minutes of those up top and costs 3000 yen for adults and 1500 yen for children. There are some conditions so please check their website.

Location and Information

You need to book in advancd and since the tour is weather reliant remember to have a backup plan.

Friends hives, Un-friendly have

Last year my friend’s beehives were ravaged by hornets, so whenever I have the chance I like to check on them for him during hornet season.

Now, This year’s weather has been pretty much disastrous (lucky us) for the hornets on Awaji Island, torrential rain in spring to hinder the nest building followed by a couple of huge typhoons in late summer which drove the final nail into the coffin for the underground dwelling species. As for the hornets who build up high and dry, well…. Even that practice was no match against the tree uprooting wind and the bucket loads of endless rain

  1. The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) is called ōsuzumebachi 大雀蜂 which is literally “great sparrow bee”.
  2. The Japanese yellow hornet (Vespa simillima xanthoptera) kiiro suzumebacho (キイロスズメバチ) the English translation is the same as the Japanese name.

Equipment used

Hard

  1. iPhone 7 Plus
  2. Quad lock case
  3. iMac (Retina 5K, 27 inch late 2015)

Soft

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro
  2. Keynote

Kicked Out!

Last year around April the owner of the land my Ayuya apiary lives on decided to kick me off her land. What sucks sorry disappoints me the most is the time I lost developing the apiary, money aside I probably lost close to 1,000 hours of work over three years and only got to harvest one hive.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to overwinter six hives which were due to be harvested the early summer of 2017, But because I was kicked out I needed to move them to a new apiary. Sadly three of the hives did not take to the new area, and two were stolen, yes stolen – seriously! – from the new location.

Just before getting kicked off!

CLEANING UP! What a BITCH! The job of cleaning up that is, not the land owner 🙂

Man I am lucky to have a fellow beekeeper friend who has a excavator.

🙁

All complete!

  • Loss of money around JPY400,000 (USD 3,600)
  • Loss of time 1,000 hours
  • Loss of hives 5!
  • Lesson learnt – PRICELESS

Camellia

Bees on Awaji island should be thankful for the plentiful supply of naturally growing camellia species during the winter months. Around my apiaries, I am blessed to have the hills littered with Yabu Tsubaki (Camellia japonica), and apiaries closer to civilization Sasanqua seems to be dominant species. If you ever have trouble telling which is which, just wait until the flower drops. If it drops petal by petal it’s a sasanqua and if the whole flower drops them it’s a camellia.

IMG_4661

Shed update

Hatada eventually should become my biggest apiary hosting around 100 hives, in the area of the shed hopefully a potential 40 hives so I need to keep tools and hives on hand so I can rock up to the apiaries empty handed and take care of business.

Empty handed? Really? Lazy much? 

I really want to cycle there some weekends and it’s a good 70 km round trip if I  do a loop. Also I never know if I am going to be cycling, motorbiking or driving the Awaji sports car, aka kei-truck.

But the main thing I want to keep up there is a weed-eater. In the photos below you’ll notice some yellow flowers, those flowers are sadly an invasive species are pulling them out has became tiresome, so a little fossil fuel power is needed.