Chris Impey and Fran Barnes from Farming Today have been learning the art of beekeeping for a year-long project. They've acquired a hive and a colony of bees, which they're keeping at the British Beekeepers' Association apiary at the National Agricultural Centre in Warwickshire. They're going to see if they can keep the colony alive for long enough to produce a crop of honey. They're going to be visiting the hive regularly during the year and will be blogging about it too. Here, Chris Impey introduces the project.
So after five weeks of evening classes Fran and I have finally taken delivery of the Farming Today bees - the first time we've done any bee handling. Under the watchful eye of our tutor, Clive Joyce, we went from being beekeeping students to actual beekeepers - albeit inexperienced ones.
It was amazing to see how quickly they took to their new home. Within a few minutes one bee had taken up guard at the hive entrance while others were coming back and forth as if they'd been living there for weeks. I can't wait to see how they develop. There are 10,000 of them at the moment but that's likely to go up to 50,000 by the summer.
I was surprised to learn that even though our colony is new (it's been supplied by a local breeder) it's very likely it's already got varroa. One of our biggest challenges over the coming months will be to monitor for the disease which devastated so many colonies last year.
We had evening class again last night - the lecture was about how to handle bees so we felt at an advantage over the rest of the group. Fran was showing off the skill she learned from Clive in properly "turning" a frame laden with bees. People must think we're swots because we always sit at the front.
We can't decide what to call our queen. Fran suggested either Charlotte or Anna after our presenters. Any suggestions welcome.
- The slideshow shows Chris and Fran's first visit to the hive
- Listen to Chris and Fran's first visit to the new hive on this morning's Farming Today.
- Fran and Chris have been trained by the Warwick and Leamington branch of the British Beekeepers Association.
- Some photographs of Chris and Fran at the new hive, taken by Clive Joyce, their bee mentor.