During the Summer season, Tuesday afternoons, weather permitting, the Hughenden beekeepers can be found at work. We look at the bees to check all is well.
We have had a busy few weeks as we adjust to the various issues. For example, we combined two hives neither of which was doing very well. If you looked at this combined hive you might have wondered why we had given them a newspaper to read. When small colonies are combined, we need to make sure there is only one queen. We also need to guard against bees in one colony rejecting the other colony to the extent the queen could be killed. If we separate the two with a sheet of newspaper, there is every chance that the various indicators that show a bee is from a different colony will have merged to such an extent that the bees from the two colonies can live in harmony by the time shey have eaten through the sheet of newsprint.
We have also replaced a couple of queen bees, to improve our stock. When buying queens, they are purchased with a small entourage of worker bees. In a similar way, if we just emptied them into a colony, they would be identified as ‘foreign’ and risk being killed. If they arrive by post, they will be in a tiny ventilated cage with a small plug of sugar paste at one end. If this can be suspended inside the cage, there is a chance that by the time the bees have eaten the plug of sugar, they forget they wanted to kill the alien queen.
Amongst this we have also taken part in a research project which involves putting on pollen traps and reporting the pattern of pollen from 3 of our hives as well as our ongoing task of speaking to those visitors who stop and ask us what we are up to. Today we spoke to several people, including a young visitor intrigued with the electronic monitoring equipment inside the hives. He had just built his own computer, having costed everything on a spreadsheet and tested each step of the build.