27 May 2020

World Bee Day dawns to reveal thriving hives

Martin Davies

As I arrive at the Bee Garden, I always have a quick check around to make sure all is as it should be, especially as it is swarming season. There are a few bees taking interest in the outer wall so I investigate.

The cotoneaster that hugs the wall is now in flower and the bees love it! This plant is a magnet for bumblebees and honeybees filling up on nectar and lovely creamy pollen to take back to the hive.

In the Growing the Future garden, bees and pollinators are foraging on all the alliums and, inside the Bee Garden, it is lovely to stand and observe and listen to the buzz of the honeybees enjoying the stocks.

Earlier in the week, I had noticed a small swarm had hopped out of a hive so collected this up and put into a nucleus hive.

This has now been fed with syrup to help it draw out combs and to encourage it to stay put. So the main focus at today’s inspections is on swarm control.

Two hives that were split last week are given a quick check to see if they had made queen cells. It is good to see that they are doing as instructed as there are beautiful queen cells in each. I reduce these down to one per colony as I do not want to induce lots of cast swarms. These hives will be left alone now for a couple of weeks to let the new queens mature and go on their mating flights.

If all goes to plan, we should see eggs and new brood when we check again.

All other colonies are checked thoroughly for any signs of swarming and seemed fine.

Mostly all queens or eggs are seen and each hive is checked for stores. I feel that the latter is going to be important as the colonies build up. Each colony needs to have enough stores to maintain themselves. This unprecedented period of warm, dry weather may lead to the nectar drying up and the bees could struggle to find forage. So it’s something else to keep an eye on.

Next week I will be doing disease inspections; these should be carried out regularly throughout the season to ensure the bees are healthy. Plus, still keeping a watchful eye on any preparations for swarming that may need dealing with.

It’s good to keep busy!

Lynda Christie

May 20, 2020