Beekeeping Season Apiary updates – July 2024

An interesting month in the world of beekeeping!  We would love to bring you lots of positive news that all our requeening hives have successfully requeened but sadly we are currently still not seeing much success in either Brooklands or Worthing Leisure Centre apiary sites.

When the colony wants to swarm, they will produce new queen cells for the remaining hive to requeen.  A few days after a new queen has emerged she will go on a mating flight and will be out of the hive for a few days as she finds the congregation areas of drone (male) bees and will mate with around 10-15 drones,  but during this time there is the risk that she could be killed, eaten, or even battered by the weather if it is raining or windy and therefore not make it back. You hope that the mating flight is successful, and she returns to the hive full of fertilised eggs and starts laying eggs. A queen bee on average lays around 1500 eggs PER DAY during the spring – summer months.

 

Brooklands Park Apiary

 

Split Hives – Liz and Holly. We split both these hives back in May as they were showing signs of wanting to swarm and despite queen cells present and then signs of new queens emerging, we are still not seeing the new queens or signs of queens in the hives.   Signs of a queen is seeing eggs, larvae and the general mood of the hive. Unfortunately, our weather has been quite changeable which could have impacted our new queens on mating flights,

In order to keep the number of bees in the hive and to stop worker bees laying eggs we give frames of brood (baby bees) from our other heathy hives, and if there is not a new mated queen in the hive they will build more queen cells from the eggs,  another sign for us that a new queen was not successful and they are trying again,  Both hives have tried requeening again and we will give these another couple of weeks to see if any success, if not we will then decide what to do.

Original Hive Liz – the hive is doing well and building good honey stores, probably a bit too quickly as they were running out of room and started to show signs of wanting to swarm again.  This is because they were needing more room. We gave them more room with another super box of frames and hopefully this will stop them swarming. We will need to keep checking this hive thoroughly for signs of any new queen cells.  We do not want to lose this hive.

Original Hive Holly – even though we split the hive back in May and the original queen and hive were doing well they decided they wanted to swarm again, we had given the colony more room with extra brood space but unfortunately we have lost the original queen and half the bees as they swarmed. This hive was a rehomed swarm that was caught last year so perhaps the colony just has a high swarming impulse.  We are waiting to see if the requeening has worked in the colony that stayed behind.

Hive Ruby – this is a good strong hive, the queen is doing a great job at laying lots of eggs and the worker bees have been building lots of honey stores, we will take a super box full of honey off the hive for an early honey spinning and should be able to take more at the end of the season.

Hive Honeybun – this hive is also doing well.  We did think the queen was slowing down but the bees seem to be happy with her and she is laying eggs and the bees are steadily building honey stores, we should get a super box of honey by end of the season.

 

Worthing Leisure Centre Apiary

 

These bees have also had us scratching our heads!  But first with the good news!

Hive Agatha – this hive is going great and is producing a huge amount of honey, we will be taking some off soon to do an early honey spinning as the hive is getting too tall, and the super boxes when full of honey are very heavy. We should have more honey at the end of the season aswell.

Hive Saskia – also steaming ahead with the honey production, the hive is getting too tall so will take some honey off soon for an early spin and will have more to take at the end of the season.

We always leave enough honey on the hives at the end of the season for their food stores over the winter.  We only ever take the excess.

Hive Melissa – we had missed a swarm at the beginning of the season. As there were lots of queen cells, we split the hive to see if both halves could requeen.  One half of the split managed to successfully requeen but the other half hasn’t.  We had given them more chances to requeen with frame of eggs and brood but they have still not been able to requeen. So not to lose the bees in the unsuccessful half we have merged the bees with the half that was successful and has a new mated  queen, we have been able to retain 1 hive which is good.

We merge the 2 hives together by using newspaper in between the 2 hives on top of each other.  Once the bees have chewed through the newspaper, they will be used to each other’s pheromones and will accept each other and not fight!

And now for the bad news…

Hive Flo – The hive has not been able to requeen, we have been giving the hive frames of eggs and brood from another hive to keep the number of bees up in the hive and to give them chance to make more queen cells from the eggs but no success.  If the hive has been queenless for too long some of the workers can start to lay eggs but as they are not fertilised, they can only lay drone (male) eggs, so eventually the hive will diminish to nothing, once you have laying workers it is difficult to stop them.  As some of the worker bees had started to lay eggs we will sadly have to lose the hive.

 

Sompting Hosting Site

 

Our hosting site Hive Beyonce had been split as signs of swarming. The original queen and colony is doing well, but the split hive has struggled to requeen, in this case we have bought a new queen for the hive, She arrives in a little cage/container with some attendant bees, and some fondant is at one end.  We put the cage with the queen into the hive between the frames and the bees in the hive will start to eat the fondant. By the time they have eaten all of it you hope that they are used to her pheromones and will accept her, We hope they do – there is a 50 / 50 chance, they will either kill her or accept her!

With the bad weather we have had with rain and windy conditions it is a lottery if new queens will make it back safely to the hive after mating…. Seems our new queens have not been very lucky.

 

As well as our bees keeping us very busy and scratching our heads, we have been busy with our educational workshops and talks.

 

Our mission is to promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators, and education is at the heart of what we do. With the funding money we receive we are able to offer our educational workshops to various schools, organisations and community groups to take part.

With the groups we first carry out an introduction to the life of honeybees and beekeeping.  We then get the groups suited up and we go into the apiary and open up one of the hives so the students can see the bees in action and get a hands-on experience.

For the 2024 season we have welcomed groups from Northbrook Gateway/Inclusion unit, Oak Grove College, Red Balloon school, Oscar Romaro school, Rowans Opportunities Day Centre, Guild Care and Electric Storm Youth Group.  Some of these students have complex needs and they really are an inspiration to see them so calm and engaged with the bees. Hopefully we have inspired the next generation of beekeepers.

We also go out into the community to give a talk about our project and our amazing honeybees.  We have given talks to as young as 5-year old’s at primary schools to 90 year olds in residential care homes.  So thank you to Heene Primary school, Creative Waves, Kingsland Care home, to name a few, for giving us the opportunity to tell you about our bees.  The students at Heene Primary and the residents at Kingsland care home even got creative and decorated some hives for us.

If you are a community group, organisation or school and are interested to take part in either a workshop to meet our bees or for us to give a talk please get in contact at lisa@pollinatorpioneers.org.uk

 

Want to get involved? To learn more about animals, birds, pollinators, green spaces or conservation contact us at info@pollinatorpioneers.org.uk