The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Another swarm of bees has taken up residence in our apiary

“Are you sure that they haven’t moved from number 11 to number 10?”
“Of course not. Can’t you see the gentle flow of bees to and from number 11? The ones in number 10 are a much bigger swarm. Just listen to them.”

We have renamed our small apiary “Downing Street”. Here in the UK, the Prime Minister occupies number10 and his most powerful assistant, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), lives next door.

Events on the bee front have been dramatic in the past week or so. And drama is the keyword for UK politics at the moment.

A tiny colony – referred to as a caste – moved into number 11 last weekend. I heard a roar this evening, as loud as our neighbours’ boiler, coming from the apiary area beside the pond. Another swarm of bees had moved into our main beehive – Number 10. The air was filled with bees making orientation flights. Meanwhile inside the hive the main colony was spring cleaning.  The distinct buzzing was a true joy.

So now two new colonies have moved into our hives and we are delighted.

We were so sad when we lost both our bee colonies last winter. I couldn’t even bear to blog about it. The garden this spring seemed strangely silent, bee wise.

I planned to buy a colony if we had a windfall. This would cost about £100. So I was expecting a summer without bees.

The arrival of the small swarm was a delight. I spent hours watching them fly to and fro. Today’s arrival is our second silver spoon. A larger swarm of bees has taken up residence in the other hive. This evening I’ve been out beside the pond, watching both colonies, enjoying their industry and thanking the universe for such good luck.

We’re going to examine our new colonies at the weekend. All I need to do is mend the holes that nesting mice made in our bee suits last winter. That’s the job for tomorrow evening and if D lends me his laptop again there should be another post!

  Leave a reply


  1. Michelle in NZ

    Wow, 2 lots of loverlies in the garden.

    Dad’s brother, David kept bees. Several hives at his place – now this was okay because the hives were at the bottom of a very steep garden. The ove hive he put in Grandma’s garden made life a bit more difficult for my holidays there.

    Ohhh, but the honey was so,so good.

    After a bit of darning I hope you have very happy beekeeping. With such a choice of flowers you should get beautiful multi-floral honeys. From my (bought) pot of “Manuka with Wild Flower Honey”

    Hopefully, no stings on the Min Pins,

    Care and huggly love to all

    Michelle and Zebbycat (awake and hungry, again) xxx and munch, munch.

  2. You are living a charmed life, bees and all! Are both colonies the same kind of bees? Have always wondered if they are territorial or if they just tolerate one another.
    Love your blog, so many interesting posts!
    Stop by mine anytime 🙂

  3. sebbie

    How exciting!

    I’m hoping to go on a ‘taster’ bee keeping course this summer although keeping bees won’t be a reality for us for a few years. I shall look forward to living vicariously through your blog.

  4. kate (uk)

    Seem to be quite a good number- and variety of bees about this year- certainly more in evidence than last. Hope the hives do well for you.

  5. Veronica

    That’s marvellous! What a wonderful surprise present from nature. I do hope your bees settle in and thrive.

  6. How exciting! I hope they stay & thrive,your vegetable & flower gardens certainly offer them a lovely home :o)
    GTM x

  7. magic cochin

    I’m thrilled for you! Does this mean that if you ‘just’ stick a hive in your garden a swarm migtht turn up? Or does it need to have been occupied by some bees before and smell right? Or is this amazing good luck?

    I hope your new bee colonies thrive this summer 🙂


  8. michelle sheets

    Yeah! How wonderful! I am so happpy for you!
    My grandfather kept bees when I was growing up, and I always looked foward to the plates of honeycomb in the fall. I need to look around at my house and see if I can figure out a place I could keep a hive.

  9. Mr Cold Frame

    I’d never really thought about bees ariving at a hive all by themselves. Is this something that generally happens with hives in a good location?

  10. Pamela

    How exciting! One colony moving in is great but 2 is even better. How do they know that the empty hives will make a good place to live? Will they stay now they have found the hives or might they just move on again?

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