Isolation Starvation

Starved Bees
Starved Bees

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“. 

Continue reading “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.

Continue reading “Scorching”

Why Don’t Bees Store Water?

Bee Drinking - Courtesy Of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Crown Copyright
Bee Drinking – Courtesy Of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Crown Copyright

Along with Earth, Air and Fire, Water is one of the elements common to ancient Greek, Buddhist and Hindu philosophies. And even when modern scientists scan for signs of extra-terrestrial existence, water is the first thing they look for. Water is vital to life. So why don’t bees store water?

Continue reading “Why Don’t Bees Store Water?”

Honey Processing

The Honey Processing Room
The Honey Processing Room

We’re lucky that we are neighbours to a Jamie Oliver Teaching Kitchen in Orford Primary School. During late August, with the summer holidays coming to an end, we move our extraction and filtering equipment, together with honeybuckets and jars, into this pristine food-quality environment, we spin out and then cold-filter the honey harvest, prior to ripening the honey and then pouring it into jars.

Continue reading “Honey Processing”

Rhubarb, Rhubarb

Varroa - Courtesy Of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Crown Copyright
Varroa Mites On A Bee – Courtesy Of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Crown Copyright

Beekeepers are getting hot under the collar about an academic study which compares the different methods of applying oxalic acid (derived from rhubarb leaves) to a hive to combat the pernicious varroa mite. Oh yes. Continue reading “Rhubarb, Rhubarb”

10 Reasons We Love Green Roofs

NYC Beehives
NYC Beehives

We crossed the Atlantic to visit Artie Rollins at his New York City Parks Department’s 30,000 square foot rooftop on Randall’s Island.

An unusual assignment. And an unglamorous location. Even the taxi driver we flagged down in Harlem after the M35 bus we were on broke down had no idea where it was. Or did, but didn’t like the idea of going there. But we were on a mission.

Continue reading “10 Reasons We Love Green Roofs”