9 Jul 2020

Bee Team is back in the game in time for the big reopening

Martin Davies

I am in the company today of my much-missed Bee Garden volunteers who are back in action this week.

After last week’s catch-up meeting and an introduction to our new social distancing rules for future working together, we divided jobs and apiaries between us, worked in dedicated pairs and then met up to discuss each apiary.

July is usually the season for our main honey crop so we were interested to see how the bees were getting on with the task of filling the supers (shallow boxes where honey is stored) we added last week.

On some colonies, we already have two full supers so the bees have clearly been busy between the wind and rain. On the sunny days, you can hear the honeybees working on the flowers and, today, the bees are very noticeable in the Apothecary’s Garden foraging on the meadowsweet.

The solitary bees are also busy on the geraniums and the giant scabious, which is a joy to see.

In the Science Apiary, a couple of the hives were a bit tetchy at the start of inspections due to the drizzle but, by the time we got to the third hive, the sun had come out and we found the queen that had been elusive the previous time and were able to catch and mark her. So, a good result!

By now, the swarming season should be over but the previous day I had just, by chance, been down to check the apiary and a swarm emerged from one of the main apiary hives. I thought I had knocked the queen cells down to one to prevent this from happening, but the bees had other plans.

The swarm settled in the ivy just outside the bee garden so it was easily accessible to collect it up and place into a new hive. They seemed to have settled in and were given some syrup to help them draw out the new frames and get established. This should be, according to our records, the last one to re-queen, famous last words! Let’s hope all the bees will turn their attention to foraging from now on.

We were also preparing for the return of our visitors with the opening of the Garden to the public on July 6th. It was great to have extra pairs of hands to help with the weeding and tidying of the apiary, to get it looking up to scratch for our visitors’ return. I had tried to keep the Bee Garden in check over the spring but it’s made a huge difference to have the help of the Bee volunteers. I’m so pleased to have them back.

Lynda Christie

July 2, 2020