The Cottage Smallholder

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New bees for Easter

Beehive beside our pond is home for our new colony of bees

Our new colony of bees sited by the pond

We are so lucky. We got a call from Lindsay Sampford, our local Bee Inspector, on Thursday.
“Would you like a colony of bees?”

I jumped at the opportunity. A colony would have more than a fighting chance of survival through next winter if we got it now. It should be strong by the autumn. A quick call to the owner, who was moving away from a commune in Burwell and we were in business.

When we lost our bees a few weeks ago, the single biggest factor that made me sad was that they would not be pollinating our fruit trees and broad beans this spring. The trees are just about to burst into blossom and the beans are doing well. The bees would arrive at the perfect time.

We tottered from our bed at 06.30 am this morning, having arranged to meet Lindsay at 07.45 am. The owner was giving away two colonies and the other lucky couple joined us.

A Bee Inspector’s job is not nine to five. It’s long hours and weekend work. He had visited the apiary in the commune after dark last night to remove the roofs and placed a mesh screen on the top of each hive for ventilation. He blocked the entrances with sponge foam. Then he strapped the hives up. Hive straps hold the brood box (the bottom section where the queen lays her eggs) and the supers (where the honey is stored) together so they cannot slide apart on the journey home.

At the commune we picked our way past a large kitchen garden to the small apiary in a wooded area. It was a two man job to shift the heavy hives. Lindsay and Robert donned their bee suits. Danny, Helen and I looked on.

The hives were loaded into our cars. There were a few bees on the outside of the hive but they travelled back with us happily in the back of the car.

Finally the bees were installed in our apiary by the pond. I peeled back the foam entrance block and Danny said, “RUN.”

The bees shot out and were quite rattled for a few hours. Covering the front of the hive and buzzing in an agitated timbre. By early evening they had calmed down. They have two days to settle down and orient themselves to their new environment before they are transferred to our hive.

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  1. Grams2Lissy

    We would love to keep our own bees. Does anybody know if you need permission from the local council first?

    Any & all advice would be welcomed.

    Thank you,
    Hazel xx

  2. Margo

    Brilliant – that “RUN” made me laugh! Thanks for a lovely article on getting your new colony – hope they do well. Makes me worry I’ve waited too long for my new bees to arrive this summer 🙁

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