It’s that time of year again. Rasping throats, bunged-up noses and streaming eyes: the hay fever season has arrived. And Silver Birch is its harbinger.
If we hadn’t been due to deliver 15 kilos of local London Honey to Joe Fox, chef at the legendary Petersham Nurseries, on a sparkling Spring morning, we’d probably have gone anyway.
NEW ROOFTOP PLANTING GUIDE
Just in time for Spring, we’ve posted our new guide to Bee-Friendly Rooftop Planting. You can download it here.
The guide’s been expertly researched and written for us by London-based garden designer Jane Finlay. Jane trained at Kew and was recently a finalist in the Society of Garden Design Student Award. Massive thanks to Jane for her inspiring urban forage suggestions. You can find out more about her distinctive approach to garden design at janefinlay.london.
The purpose of this blog is to inform and to entertain: this post falls squarely into the first category. After several months confined to the hive, my Suffolk bees took advantage of a warmer day to take a short flight last weekend. Why ? Those of a delicate disposition should look away now… Continue reading “Voiding”
The saddest sight a beekeeper can see is a huddle of dead bees, heads thrust deep inside empty wax cells, with the queen dead in the middle. And the wretched thing is that they had starved just an inch away from a broad, golden arc of honey. This phenomenon is called “Isolation Starvation“.
With the temperature relentlessly around zero, the word “scorching” is clearly unrelated to today’s weather forecast.
Well, it is and it isn’t. This frosty time of year is ideal for a belt and braces cleansing of empty beehives. This can be accomplished by immersing the hive parts in a lye (sodium hydroxide) solution, or for smaller scale beekeepers, by using a blow-torch to singe the interior crevices and wide surfaces of brood and super boxes. That’s where the scorching comes in. Here I am, spring-cleaning a hive which I have just started to manage.
The competition for bubble-wrap becomes intense in our household at this time of year. And it’s not just Sarah’s extraordinarily gregarious Christmas present list which drives the local demand for that commodity.
I have a beekeeping confession to make. It is strange, but true. I wrap my Bermondsey rooftop hives with bubble-wrap in December and January each year. There, I’ve said it.
It’s the summer solstice. Today is the longest day of the year with 16 hours, 38 minutes and 19 seconds of daylight in London. It’s also the day when Queen bees hit their peak daily laying rate of over 2,000 eggs a day. So it’s a good time of year to consider the dark side of beekeeping: the swarm.
A swarm of bees can be a nuisance and a distraction from everyday human activity, yet swarming is simply the way that honeybee colonies reproduce. Bees swarm in the Spring and Summer, when the colony is strong enough to divide, which is when people tend to be out and about more. Given the pressure on bees’ numbers in the U.K., this is a good thing. Yet the first time you see a swarm of bees, it’s bound to be an unnerving experience. Continue reading “Swarm”