Tag Archives: Bee Hives

Return of the bee hives!

Some of you might remember the upsetting time at the end of last year when our bees suffered visits from thieves in the night. It was a small enough collection anyway, but unfortunately over the two visits our hives were reduced even further, leaving a much smaller colony to hopefully limp through the winter.


Damaged hive sections following overnight ‘visitors’…

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Bee Keeper Visit Thursday 25th July


The first hive dismantled showing the two supers on the ground with the brood box left (where the queen is laying her eggs) and one super on top.

Compton Verney’s bees have certainly been enjoying the hot sunny whether we’ve been having. Our ladies have been hard at work foraging – collecting pollen to feed the brood and nectar to convert into honey.


Rod Oates holding up a frame of honey from one of the supers in the first hive.

On Thursday our volunteer beekeepers – Rod Oates and Tanya Weaver – went over to see how our two hives are doing. The first hive has been in place a few months now and the colony is thriving. Our second has only been in place a week but that small colony seem to be settling into their new home nicely.


The second hive has only had its new residents in for just over a week.

The first colony really amazed Rod and Tanya. The bees have filled two supers full of honey and are well into filling a third. These supers will be removed soon and the honey extracted. This is exciting news as we are not far away from harvesting our very own Compton Verney honey! There could be as many as 50 jars from just this one colony and there could be more to come.

Rod holding up a frame of honey from one of the supers in the first hive.

A close-up of the top of one of the supers with the bees sipping honey. The reason why they are eating the honey and not flying about is because of the smoker. The smoke essentially makes them think that there is a fire in the nearby vicinity so they gorge themselves on honey before they have to fly away and find a new home if theirs burns down. Of course, this then allows the beekeeper to inspect the colony without too much bother from the bees.

The second colony is far smaller. It is a nucleus of bees (which basically means a queen bee with bees on five frames) kindly donated by Honey Bee Suppliers near Banbury. These bees are flying well and there is quite a lot of brood but it’s very unlikely that this colony will produce any honey this year. The focus will be on ensuring that they gather strength during the rest of the summer and go into winter with enough numbers and food so that they’ll survive the winter and be ready to thrive in the spring.

Inside the second hive. The nucleus came on five frames and then three new frames have been added so that the bees can expand.

Bees arrive at Compton Verney

I’m glad to announce the arrival of honey bees to the grounds at Compton Verney!


Rod Oates transporting the bees to their new home at Compton Verney

It has taken a while to get to this stage, but we’re all thrilled to be doing our little bit in support of the ailing bee population, and whilst we’re starting with just two hives, we’re hopeful that we can expand, adding more hives in due course.

Naturally, the news of bees on site brings gasps of admiration from some, and horror from others; especially those wary of being stung. I can say however that care and attention has been given to selection of a good site that offers protection of people and bees – we shall of course be watching the bees very carefully to see how they settle down.


Our new hives, and bees, settle into their new surroundings in the west lawn at Compton Verney.

Today the colony was collected from a bee farm by Rod and Val Oates, two of our volunteer beekeepers and transported to site in a sealed container. Once checked the colony and its queen were transferred to their new home; in a distant corner of the west lawn.


The bees are due more attention over the coming days to ensure the settle into their new home, but initial signs were good as they flew out to explore their surroundings. Over the coming weeks and months, we aim to bring you regular updates of their progress on this blog, and the work involved in maintaining the hive and the surroundings. If you’re keen to follow our progress – you can add your email address to receive regular updates.

We’ll ‘bee’ back soon!