Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Honey Bees Are Here!

A few months ago when we were in the depths of winter I suddenly realised Andrew has some bee keeping books. ‘Are we getting bees I asked?' And the reply came back ‘YES!' Anyhow, by Christmas I was instructed that a good present would be a bee hive and the kit that goes with it. Such items were purchased and although I knew we had ordered some honey bees, it was still a bit of a surprise when we received the email to say they were coming this week!
Ash Blossom - great bee food!

Well I don’t know why I was so apprehensive as thankfully it all went very smoothly! The bees arrived in a buzzing green cardboard box, which we left  for 24 hours so they could acclimatize to their new home. Our bees came up from Gloucestershire and this box of bees is a family  or nuc of bees with a queen, comb and other bees at different life cycles including worker bees, larvae and eggs ( or It was a tense moment as Andrew opened the door to let them out, but gradually they calmly emerged and it was great to see they were happy to explore their new home. They were bringing pollen back within 30 minuates!

Andrew all suited up to let the bees out
The next day Andrew moved them to the bee hive after using a bit of smoke to keep them calm, again this went really smoothly and the bees seemed to have settled really well, and at the moment I think they are collecting the local tree pollen. Our large Ash has just started to blossom, which was perfect timing for the bees. We are also feeding them with special sugar (like cake icing sugar) to give them a head start whilst flowers start to bloom in spring. Bee keeping can be viewed as complicated but like anything if you break it down you gain an understanding. We are now looking forward to the honey which should be ready for harvest around September.  
Bees getting some extra food in their new home
So why have we decided to have bees?

In the UK we have at least 1500 species of insects pollinations our plants, which in turn plays a huge role in the success  of our crops and wildlife or as may say now our biodiversity. These insects include bumble bees, honey bees, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetle, butterflies and moths. Last year there was quiet a lot of media coverage about how we need to look after our insects as they have been in decide in recent year. Even the government (DEFRA) with the Wildlife Trust has launched a strategy called the ‘National Pollinators Strategy’. The plan is to encourage people to grow more flowering plant species, keep more wild areas, cut grass less, keep areas for hibernating insects and think about whether you need to use chemical on our farm and in our gardens.

Our bee hive made of polystyrene, giving extra warmth in winter
We are working hard to do all of the above at Ellers and by having honey bees we are adding an addition insect population to the local area, which we hope will have a positive effect for all.

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