23 Jul 2020

Bees get busy on the brambles

Martin Davies

The Bee Team did a good job of looking after the bees while I had a short break last week.

As soon as I turned my back, the bees were up to mischief and let out a swarm. Fortunately, they were spotted, collected up and put into a hive. By this week, they had drawn out comb and the queen had been busy as there were already lots of eggs.

This time of year, the bees are very active in collecting and processing nectar. We have to be mindful that we make sure the bees have plenty of space to store the nectar and turn it into honey.

They need roughly 40lbs of honey for stores to get them through the winter but the bees will keep on bringing in the forage as long as there is a nectar flow on. The excess is what the beekeeper can harvest as the honey crop.

It takes a whole lifetime of one honey bee to collect a 12th of a teaspoon and more than 1,000 honey bees to collect enough to fill a 1lb jar.

The honey bees are still foraging on the brambles, rosebay willowherb and the many flowering plants out in the Garden. I have spotted that the Himalayan balsam is just starting to come into flower locally so, hopefully, this will give the bees a boost once the brambles are over. Also, I look forward to seeing the white ‘mohawk’ that the bees have when they are working this plant. 

In the apiaries this week, we paid particular attention to adding supers (shallow boxes) where necessary. Checking swarms for building up and locating elusive queens to mark. We also added floor inserts as we will be doing disease checks next time.

Let’s hope the weather holds out and the bees can keep on foraging so we can be optimistic about a honey harvest in August.

Lynda Christie

July 17th, 2020