Landlocked Gifu prefecture is well known for insect delicacies from soy sauce boiled locusts to the more evil hornet larvae.
Held every year on Culture day (文化の日 Bunka no Hi) the 3rd of November in the small mountain city of Ena this festival attracts over 100 hornet-keepers who bring their boxed hornet nests to be weighed and sold to the public. On TV it’s plugged as Japan’s Most Dangerous Festival（日本一危険祭り Nihon Ichi Kiken Matsuri）, The chances of getting stung are fairly high (as I did) , But in reality it’s not that dangerous unless you are allergic to bees.
The festival starts at 10:00 and runs for around three hours. Festival food like venison and wild boar sausages, sticky rice goheibo mochi on a flat stick and dipped in an adult black hornet sauce are available if you get hungry and can endure the forty minute wait.
If you are a beekeeper or have no problem with little flying insects buzzing around your head, I highly recommend this festival. Just remember to bring your beekeeper’s suit if you want to go in the hornet tent. If you have asthma or hate smoke, don’t even think about the tent, the smoke bombs used are rather obnoxious.
Campgrounds and a hot spring (Onsen) are located nearby if you want to rough it. The Onsen was 600 yen and a refreshing break from the buzzing black hornets.
The night before I decided to stay on the outskirts of Toyota city at a reasonably priced hotel and take a sixty-minute drive to the festival in the morning.
Five years, 67,000km and my first scooter and all I can say is Thank you. I rode you into the ground, I mistreated you and punished you severely, and you kept on giving.
But honestly, The PCX is a great machine. I had almost no issues with her, and the ones I did have were user made… like crashing into a ditch and crapping out on ice… And more than once I might add.
I travelled the island of Shikoku and many places in Kansai. Although I feel this scooter is to small for travelling long distances with someone who has little free time on their hands like me. Those times where I did have ample time for long rides I found the PCX comfortable and easy to park are tourist spots because of the small footprint.
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
The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) is called ōsuzumebachi 大雀蜂 which is literally “great sparrow bee”.
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.
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.
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.
Capping honey is the final stage of honey production for the bee. After hours and hours of to and fro flight, visiting an untold number of flowers and the uncountable bee hours of fanning the honey the bee essentially does what the beekeeper does when they bottle the honey, they put a neat little lid on the cell.
Autumn is normally my best haul of the year, spring pales in comparison. So after bumper spring haul, great weather and and amazing comb grow I was expecting great numbers for this Autumn…. I could not have been more wrong.
On this warm autumn, Sunday afternoon I set the goal of ten hives to harvest
The apiary a buzz with yellow hornets (wait …. that’s not good) I cut open the first and biggest hive with my trusty bread knife. The moment the knife enters the hive you know if this harvest is going to be good or bad, the disappointing cardboard sound of the blade cutting through dry honey comb. I could stop, but the hive was to big and a believe it or not a harvest honey is an essential part of good winter health maintenance.
The result of the harvest is below, The other hives I`ll leave for the next spring as the a new hives this year and hopefully they’ll sort themselves out over winter.
Thanks to my creative friends at Kreativ I have settled on a logo and name for my honey. I have also moved all my hives to the Hatada area in Sumoto and will be focusing on wild organic honey from now.
Not really the kind of pictures I want to post to this page. But as I do like to be transparent with my beekeeping, So introducing the pest with kills 10% to 20% of my hives each year…… Meet
Mr.Wax moth larva
A moth !?! … seriously! A moth can wipe out a colony of bees…it’s a moth.
Whinging aside, this normally only happens if the hive is weak but I have seen a strong colony go down from wax moths after an onslaught of attacks from giant hornets, those hornets never penetrate the hive they just laid siege to it, not letting the bees leave.
Catch a spring swarm generally the only way to increase your Japanese honey bee colonies . Hive splitting, requeening are just something you just really won’t hear Japanese beeks talking about.
For the past four years I have been using the yellow margin orchid which releases 3-Hydroxyoctanoic acid to signal Japanese honey bees. I honestly do not know why it does this, or what benefits the orchid gets, and Man! getting the orchid to flower when I want it to is always a major headache. With my painkillers running low I have decided to purchase artificial traps this year and see how they work.