Bees, how wonderful are they!

Over 20 years ago Alison started keeping bees with the Kingston Beekeepers a division of Surrey Beekeepers and of the British Beekeepers Association on the allotments on Hampton Court Way in Thames Ditton

Swarming bees are not angry bees, at this point in their activity they are at their most placid. Swarming bees are flying with the ‘old’ queen from a hive to create a new colony elsewhere – it is the division of the species – their bellies are full of honey and they are only interested in finding a new place to set up home.

I’m starting with that gem of info as so many people are scared of bees and particularly swarming bees and they don’t need to be. I’ve been keeping bees for 20+ years and only last year had the privilege of seeing two swarms within a week of each other and in separate places. I was initially really disappointed – where was the dense cloud of grey bees I’d seen in Winnie the Pooh and seconds later was in awe at the number of bees flying and noise too.

I don’t think us beekeepers tell folk enough that swarming bees are not the threat people and media portray. We’d all prefer bees not to swarm, as neighbours do tend to fear them,  but we also lose our honey crop as the flying bees are those which normally forage for honey!

We’ll be writing about the joys and perils of beekeeping on this page

10th March 2014 we had the pleasure of our first inspection this year of our 3 hives. We’ve ‘named’ our queens as we used to get very confused about which hive was 1, 2 or 3 so we have

  • Delilah as she was quite a feisty queen
  • Betty after Elizabeth – our Betty works almost as tirelessly as our Monarch
  • Patricia after Pat who generously gave us a nucleus of bees to start our 3rd colony – what she doesn’t know about bees is definitely not worth knowing and we often phone her for advice!

This is a very brief overview of a hive; a prosperous hive contains

  • one queen
  • up to 80,000 female worker bees in the summer, reducing down to about 20,000 in winter
  • a few hundred male drone bees in the summer with none in the hive over the winter

The queen is responsible for laying the eggs to produce all the bees in the hive, she can lay up to 1500 eggs in one day at the height of the breeding season. Newly ‘born’ (emerged from pupating) she will leave the hive and fly high to mate and will only leave the hive once again to swarm (this is the division of the species).

Worker bees, all female actually do all t

Bees food is nectar a liquid found in flowers which it turns into honey and stores in the honeycomb and is the only food which does not go off having found edible (but probably not very tasty) honey in the pyramids. The flavour of honey is dependent on the flower nectar collected

Bees create wax from glands, they use the wax to build the honey comb which is the structure of the hive – it is used for ‘growing’ bees, for storing honey and pollen too. They have to consume vast amounts of honey when creating wax – an amazing procedure, the comb is wafer thin and exceptionally strong.

Pollen is collected from flowers and is the bees’ protein , and everyone knows how important pollination is to fruit vegetables and flowers………..

Propolis is collected from sticky buds and tree resin – the bees use this to stick the hive together, protecting it from infection and intruders and has amazing medicinal qualities – I read somewhere that an invading mouse was found to have died and embalmed by the bees to prevent infection and the body was embalmed in propolis and hadn’t decayed!

Enough info for the time being ………….to be continued!


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