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The arrival of the colony of Buckfast bees

Nucleus box and bee hive

Nucleus box and bee hive

“I’m so pleased and relieved that you are home.” The postman grinned nervously. “I didn’t want to put this back on the van.”

He gently laid the nucleus box of bees on our doorstep. The nucleus box is a temporary container that holds the brood frames securely. There are several little grills on the sides to let air in but not allow bees to escape.
“Have they been buzzing a lot?”
“Yes. Particularly down at the post office. All the others were laughing.”

I thought it best not to mention the time when I collected my first new colony of bees and they started to make their way out of the nuc into the car as I was driving home.

Our new colony of Buckfast bees arrived last Thursday. They had to rest in their travelling nucleus box for 24 hours before being transferred to the hive. The instructions noted to open a little doorway on the front so that they could start to explore their new environment.

Danny’s beesuit had transformed into a comfortable mouse condominium over the winter so it was just me who stepped out to locate doorway in the box. It was covered with parcel tape and it was clear that the bees were not too keen on the sound of ripping tape. So I scuttled inside for a scalpel. Within a few seconds a handful of bees were out in the air around me.

Having been cooped up for quite some time, this was the acid test for the supposed temperament of Buckfast bees. There was just one death wish dive bomber, the rest just buzzed about ignoring me completely.

On Friday the transfer of the frames from the nucleus box to the hive went smoothly. The bees were given a feeder holding 1.7 litres of water and sugar solution – this helps in the production of wax to draw out the frames in the brood chamber. I will go into the hive after five days to check that the queen is laying well. If the bees have drawn out all the brood frames, I can remove the sugar solution and put the honey supers onto the hive

Why did we choose to invest in Buckfast bees? These bees are generally docile, fly in cool weather and produce good harvests of honey. We also thought it would be interesting to compare the standard UK honey bee with the Buckfast bee.

We have sited the hive in a warmer spot in the garden beside a large raised strawberry bed.


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7 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Guys, thanks for your comments.

    I’m not brave Chez. Honey bees are generally gentle creatures and generally don’t attack unless they feel under pressure.

    I didn’t like mead when I tasted it, Diane but I’d love to make some sort of honey liqueur.

    Bridget, having actually shelled out hard cash for these bees they will be closely monitored by me :0)

    I’m very interested in top bar hives, Steve H. It seems much more natural to me.

    Steve H and Tamar – I went into the hive yesterday evening and this Buckfast colony seems much more mellow than the standard UK honey bee. Couldn’t find the queen though 🙁

    Kate UK – I think that you’re right, there is something very wrong with your bees. What a shame.

  2. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Buckfast bees! I’ve been curious about them. We’re struggling with hives over on this side of the Atlantic, and everybody’s trying different strains. I’d love to try a Buckfast colony. Besides the many good qualities they’re rumored to have, you gotta love a bee that was developed by monks. Good luck!

  3. KateUK

    The chimney bees were buzzing and scrambling around the nest entrance again today- Great fat things they are, many of them just drop to the ground and die, which makes sitting on the bench 30ft below fairly unpleasant.The normal, little bees don’t drop on you and die. I think the big ,fat swarmy bees have something wrong with them- I must have swept up over 60 bees this evening from this afternoon’s excursion.

  4. steve h

    Tis June, so your new swarm should be worth a Silver-spoon!

    I`ve just built a “Top-bar” hive but wasn`t planning on residents this year (unless some vagrants take up residence – hopefully!)and was considering a Buckfast Brood!- so will bee very interested in your “findings” over the next few months! – keep us posted!

  5. Bridget

    I shall be following your experience, thanks for sharing. Would love to keep bees someday.

  6. I never knew you could send bees through the post! Are you going to make mead? xxxx

  7. You are so brave, I don’t think I could raise bees.

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