Tuesday 9 June 2009, 18:54
"The bees will beat us you know", our bee mentor, Clive Joyce, sagely told me yesterday while we tried, yet again, to stop the Farming Today beehive swarming. Clive is usually the voice of optimism, but even he - when faced with more Queen Cells than he's ever seen - is preparing to face up to the prospect that a significant number of our bees will up sticks and fly off. The problem is the good weather! Which is quite ironic, as last year the problem was the bad weather.
There's so much pollen and nectar flowing that the bees have more honey and more wax than they know what to do with and they're running out of room. We've put on another 'super' to collect more honey and we're hoping that will keep them occupied. But in the meantime, the bees are trying to produce another Queen to replace the one which is about to fly off. If we keep destroying the new Queen cells we have a chance of keeping "Auntie" safely ensconced in the Farming Today hive.
Swarms are a real problem this year. Last year in the area around our hive (Warwick and Leamington) there were 7 swarms in the entire year. This year there are reports of 13 a day - and that's just near our hive. Good news for new beekeepers hoping to populate an empty hive with a swarm... but bad news for beekeepers who open up their hive to wonder where all their bees have gone.
Beekeepers need to check their hive at least every 9 days... but ideally more regularly than that to prevent new Queens being produced. I was at my allotment the other weekend only to see a swarm of bees in a tree nearby. I called Clive and we climbed up the apple tree to collect the swarm - what an experience, I think the last time I climbed a tree was when I was 7 years old! On the upside, we've got about 20lbs of honey in the hive which we're hoping to extract this week. This vast amount of honey has been produced in just 2 weeks. Bees are amazing aren't they?
Fran Barnes is Senior Producer at Farming Today
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Tuesday 9 June 2009, 09:04
Wednesday 10 June 2009, 09:10