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    More from the Farming Today Bees

    Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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    Fran Barnes, a producer on the programme and half of the intrepid bee team, has sent me a second installment in the Farming Today bee saga. I'm posting it on her behalf this time but she'll contribute directly in future and the programme team are planning a blog of their own:

    "Just taken Charlotte Smith to the hive to record Farming Today This Week for broadcast Saturday 2nd May. Charlotte is pessimistic about our bees and raised serious questions about whether they would survive the year, given the disease problems the British honeybee faces.

    This was a shock to me. I've always been perfectly optimistic. It hasn't really occurred to me that our colony could die (read about bee parasite Varroa in Wikipedia and hear more about it on last Tuesday's Farming Today). I had just assumed that was the kind of thing that happened to 'other' beekeepers. Should I start bracing myself for this possibility? Seeing our (still nameless) Queen working hard in the hive it's hard to believe at this stage anything untoward could happen. The Queen's laying 1800 eggs a day and the hive is looking very busy. The bees are starting to 'draw out' the comb from the new frames in the hive. I'm always so fascinated and taken aback by the industriousness of the bees that important questions like "when will we get some honey" didn't cross my mind. I must ask Clive next time.

    On the subject of honey... Chris and I attended the most well-received of our beekeeping evening classes last night. It was the session about honey extraction and we sampled 5 different types of honey as well as honey cake and mead. We decided that honey tasting is very similar to wine tasting - if you're used to cheap plonk then expensive stuff doesn't quite taste right. We're both slightly embarrassed to admit that neither one of us particularly liked heather honey - the gold standard of honey. We had thought we'd take the Farming Today bees 'to the heather' this year, but perhaps not.

    On another note, while at the apiary I re-hived a swarm Clive had collected. There's so much to learn, and the more we learn the more intrigued we are. More on the swarm next week."

    Fran Barnes

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