Saturday, 31 May 2014

Bizzzzzy bees at Pentre Bach!

We’re all aware of how important honeybees are to our ecology and that in recent years numbers of bees world-wide have been dwindling. We’ve decided to do our bit to help increase the honeybee population, and so in early 2014 I became a member of Meirionnydd Beekeeping Association and subsequently undertook an intensive beekeeping course
run by the association over the course of three weekends. Meanwhile we obtained a hive and the various necessary pieces of beekeeping equipment and set about getting ready for our bees. The hive came as flat pack (not from IKEA!) and proved quite a challenge to build (although not too much to a man of Mike’s carpentry abilities!) and then we had to choose an appropriate location for our hive. With the help of a local established beekeeper, we decided to put our hive in the walled garden where the bees would be able to forage an abundance of pollen and nectar from our fruit and vegetable plants and in turn help us by pollinating our plants, while at the same time, would be a safe distance away from our guests. The hive can be spotted through a gap in the wall, yet is far enough away from the garden and field so as not to be troublesome to our guests. At the end of May our first nucleus arrived and within a few days was transferred into our own brand new hive. I managed to get stung on the chin during this process despite being well and truly suited up and ended up looking like the Elephant man! The colony should grow to around 50,000 honeybees by the end of the summer although that will decrease to around 20,000 over the winter. They're absolutely fascinating creatures and it's very tempting just to spend the odd hour or two sitting watching them come and go. The honey that is produced this year will most likely just be suffice to supply the colony with enough food to last them over the winter but hopefully by next summer 2015 Pentre Bach honeybees will be making enough honey for us to be able to sell some to our guests. We’ve also planted a wild flower meadow at the far end of our vegetable plot to help enrich the honey. Bizzzzy times ahead!

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