What a fantastic sunny weekend to host a Grounds Weekend. We had pretty much wall to wall sunshine – great news for both humans and bees.
Fellow volunteer beekeeper Rod Oates was manning our bee display, which was set out near our hives, on Saturday June 29th and I came over on Sunday to help out. I love chatting about bees so it was really a pleasure to impart some of my bee knowledge onto visitors.
We had a steady flow of visitors walking over, some of whom stayed for awhile keen to learn more about bees. Rod had an empty beehive that he was using to explain how the bees enter the hive and how different parts are used. For instance, the brood box at the bottom is where the queen lays her eggs, the larvae develops and the bees hatch and the box above is called the super in which the bees store all their delicious honey.
Rod had also printed out some photographs that he had taken of his own bees as well as the Compton Verney bees to show what happens in the ‘life of a beehive’. This proved intriguing for both adults and children alike who have no idea that there are male (drone) and female (worker) bees inside the hive as well as the queen bee. Lots of questions were asked, which was a pleasure for us to answer although Rod did have a rather taxing time trying explain to one very inquistive child as to where the first ever queen bee came from!
We also had an extractor on the display, which is used to extract honey from the combs when it’s time to harvest and the supers are full. This is an interesting contraption that works by centrifugal force. Basically, it’s a drum with a frame basket in which four honeycomb frames are placed into. By turning the handle, the frames spin around inside flinging the honey out onto the sides of the drum which then flows down and gathers at the bottom. A tap is installed at the bottom of the drum, which can be opened to pour the honey into jars.
We also had two different couples who are keen to keep bees and it was great to talk to them about how they can go about doing this.
At the moment we only have the one Compton Verney beehive but the great news is that Lucy and Viktor Zaichenko, who sold us the first nucleus (a small colony of bees) have very kindly donated us a second one which Rod will collect in about ten days. If the first colony is anything to go by, which have been calm and very happy bees, we are very much looking forward to welcoming our new residents from Honey Bee Suppliers near Banbury.