22 Oct 2020

New apiary site takes shape

Martin Davies

There is a definite autumnal chill in the air this week and it won’t be long before we have our first frost.

In the meantime, we have had a few dry, bright, sunny days and the bees have been flying well and taking advantage of the ivy, enjoying the length of time it has been in flower.

With this in mind, the aim of this week’s apiary visits is to again ‘heave’ our hives to check their weight. This gives us an indication of the level of stores in each hive. Many are sufficiently heavy but the lighter ones are given a top-up feed of syrup to boost their larders.

Each apiary has had insulation fitted under the roof of each hive. As the days get colder, the bees will form a cluster around the queen to maintain the temperature of the colony so that the bees survive until next spring.

The colony moves around the hive consuming stores and, when it is cold, moves to the top of the hive. A little bit of insulation in the roof helps them to maintain their temperature.

The new apiary site is coming on in leaps and bounds.

The bees have been reinstalled at the site. They were all given a check over and a feed of syrup to give them a little boost after their move.

The apiary is in a nice, sheltered spot with a high hedge one side and buildings on the other to shield from prevailing wind and weather. The site was cleared and levelled and given a gravel hard standing, providing a good base for the hive stands. There is plenty of space for working on the hives and room for expansion in the spring.

My bee volunteers are creating an environment for the bees and other wildlife. They have built a log pile from material left over from the ground clearance. There will also be a large bed of pollinator-friendly plants as a ‘nectar bar’ and meadow mix will be sown in cleared areas to add extra forage and habitat for the honeybees and other pollinators.

An old tractor tyre is going to be filled with bulbs and pollinator plants. This will also serve as somewhere to perch between hive inspections. We may also create a small wildlife pond, if we can find a suitable container. This will not only serve as a water source for the bees but for other creatures, too.
Currently, the bees and butterflies are foraging on the ivy that rambles over the buildings.

We are all looking forward to working with the bees at this new site.

Lynda Christie
October 15, 2020