Bees Down the Garden
This is something way left field to my usual stuff.
Three years ago almost to the day my wife bought me a beehive for my birthday. This is not one of my normal activities and it was not a normal type of beehive. The design is marketed and I believe manufactured in the UK by Gardeners Beehive and you can see from the picture below it is very unconventional. It is meant to represent a hollow tree stump and is more in keeping with the natural home that bees would inhabit in the wild.
The concept of the design is that once you have bees in residence you leave them alone. No white suits, smokers etc that are the norm for conventional hives. After the first year you can add honey boxes on the side of the hive. These act as additional storage for the bees over and above the bulk stored in the main section of the hive. Taking honey from these additional storage boxes does not drain the bees main store which they need to survive the winter. The hive does not deliver loads of honey in the way a conventional hive would but you get some busy pollinators buzzing round the garden.
So why has it taken three years to get bees in residence ? To be honest I don’t know. I followed all the instructions with the hive which detail the best location and the use of lure spray to attract the searcher bees but to no avail. Perhaps it was because swarms are most common in June, July and August when we would normally spend time in France so we missed the opportunities.
This year, isolated at home, we have spent more time in the garden and we have now seen three swarms pass overhead. It is quite an impressive sight if not a little intimidating. The third one took a fancy to a pear tree in our garden and this looked like a long awaited opportunity to get some residents.
There is a couple we know in the village who are beekeepers and we quickly rang them and asked for their help. They climbed into the tree and managed to shake most of the swarm into a cardboard box and then drop the buzzing contents into the top of my peculiar hive. It was then a matter of waiting to see if we had captured the queen and the swarm would like their new home.
All seems well so far with lots of traffic to and from the hive so maybe the three year wait is finally over.
And if three swarms weren’t enough, next day I found a small one down in the vegetable plot clustered on one of the bed protection nets. It seems it is a good period for swarms.
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