So far, it's been a busy summer for our honeybees and beekeepers alike. 18 months after installing our first hive we are now the proud owners of two healthy hives and a David Bellamy/British Beekeeping Association award for Nepgill Park's bee-friendly conservation efforts.
During routine hive inspections this spring, our bee team noticed the colony was preparing to expand and produce a new queen. When queen cells are discovered in a strong and healthy hive, it's time to split the hive in two to prevent swarming. The bee team successfully transferred a frame containing one of the queen cells (accompanied by nursery and worker bees to rear the new queen and her offspring) into a vacant second hive installed nearby. When hatched and successfully mated, the queen lays around 1,500 eggs a day, so once we saw that the queen was laying and the hive was happy with their new queen, we marked her thorax with a dab of red colour for easy future identification.
A big challenge during the summer months has been protecting the hive from invading wasps, which raid the hive of its honey reserves. When attacked, the hive's guard bees respond by surrounding the invading wasps in large numbers. As the bees accumulate so does their body heat, smothering and eventually killing the intruders. Sadly, many bees are sacrificed in protecting their hive – wasps can sting multiple times, whereas a bee dies after it has stung once. For this reason, we do our best to assist the bees by luring wasps into traps filled with sugary drinks as bait.
Another success for the bee team this year has been our first attempt at honey extraction. Thanks to our incredibly productive bees, we extracted five full frames of honey from a total of 14 (leaving some for the bees' winter reserves).
Our main task in the coming months will be to prepare the hive for winter, allowing the bees to stockpile food reserves as autumn weather approaches. Topping them up with sugar syrup is hugely beneficial as cooler temperatures and wetter weather reduces their ability to forage for pollen. This extra food enables them to feed their larvae through the winter, ensuring the queen keeps laying and replenishing the hive's population. We've absorbed so much knowledge (coached by our beekeeping mentor Adrian), yet still have much to learn . . . more of which we'll look forward to sharing with you next time.
Nepgill Park Blog
Welcome to our blog, bringing you the latest news and updates from Nepgill Park. Whether you're interested in our community projects, conservation efforts, or tips and advice about park home living, we look forward to keeping you posted.