19 Aug 2020

In the bee garden this week

Martin Davies

The Bees are known for not being fond of  Thunder and can become a bit defensive so we are particularly careful about disturbing the bees if there is an imminent storm coming. So when we carried out our inspections this week, we must have timed it just right, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the bees were so busy that they hardly noticed the interruption.

All around the Garden, the bees can be found foraging like mad, still on the Knapweed in the wilder parts and on the flowering herbs in the apothecary Garden. They are busy collecting in as much nectar as is available making preparations for their Winter stores. I have a feeling that Autumn is upon us a bit earlier than usual this year, the Brambles are starting to bear fruit and some of the trees look worse for wear.

The bees have struggled to maintain their stores this season, so we have already decided that we will not be taking Honey from the main apiary. We only take Honey supers that are in excess of the amount that the bees need, but there is some potential on our other apiaries. These are only a short distance from our main apiary but seem to be doing a bit better in respect of excess stores so I am hopeful that we will be extracting in the next week or two. 

In the main apiary, we did our disease inspections and have now begun treating each hive with a thymol treatment to reduce the varroa mites. We want our bees to be in the best of health going into autumn so that they can produce strong numbers of young bees to take into the winter. Summer bees live for approximately 36 days as they are so busy, but winter bees have to live many months to ensure the Queen and colony survive to the following spring. They do this by having plenty of stores to last them and by slowing down and clustering around the queen to see her through the lean months.

Looking after three apiaries can be a lot of work but I am very lucky to have the help from my Bee Team of volunteers. They come in every week to help out with maintaining the Bee garden, inspecting Bees, cleaning equipment and being willing pairs of hands, giving their time to the Garden. I get a lot of pleasure from social beekeeping and working in a group. We share ideas and feed off one another; some are more experienced beekeepers than others, but we all pull together and help and learn from each other, they are a great team and a lovely bunch of people who deserve a big “thank you” for all they do!

Lynda Christie

August 13, 2020