Happy October bees!

Hand-feeding our gentle bees.

Our ladies enjoyed a second summer this weekend thanks to a heatwave in October. The entrance to Rosemary’s hive was busier than Heathrow with foraging bees flying in and out, and Lavender’s hive was almost as busy as Gatwick. Our bees were loving that sunshine!

Betty, an experienced and super-successful beekeeper at our apiary who gets gallons of honey every year, warned that the unseasonal warm weather might not necessarily be good for British bees. The heat stimulates bees to fly out and forage for nectar to make honey, but one of their few sources of nectar at this time of year is ivy. Ivy honey hardens and granulates inside the comb so bees can’t eat it over winter and starve.

Emily and I are still feeding our bees sugar syrup and both feeders were drained dry when we opened our hives, so hopefully they are using this to make their winter stores. A good tip to stimulate bees to climb inside the feeder and take down syrup is to soak a twig in syrup and place it inside the feeder hole. The bees will lick the twig and climb up to find more sugar.

Slurp! Slurp!

Emily opened Rosemary’s hive to find bees crammed inside an empty feeder waiting for their weekly feed, and naughty bees who had found a way get in the roof and investigate. While Emily inspected the second half of the hive, I tried a little experiment by dipping my finger in some syrup and hand-feeding our bees.

Hmmn, what's this pink thing?

Yum! It tastes sweet!

It's finger-lickin' good!

They seemed to like it and gently licked my finger clean of syrup then climbed off to see if they could find a few more drops on the feeder.

An idyllic day at the apiary with beekeepers sharing stories and tips. I got a great piece of advice on how to smoke bees without distressing the hive too much. Don’t point the nozzle of the smoker downwards because this blows heat and dust (as well as smoke) inside the hive. Instead, point the nozzle across the hive and puff smoke over the top of the frames.

The peaceful afternoon was momentarily disturbed by a slight calamity when a tree fell on a hive belonging to another beekeeper, David. Fortunately two hero beekeepers were ready to rescue upturned bees, and then to enjoy a well-earned cup of afternoon tea.

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