So, with the season drawing to a close we’ve had a chat to our resident volunteer beekeeper, Rod Oates, for a review of the season.
Beekeeping was introduced to Compton Verney at the end of April this year with the purchase of a nucleus – essentially a small colony of bees consisting of five frames on which there was a queen, some brood and worker bees. This nucleus was placed in a wooden hive situated to the west of the grounds. Continue reading
I bumped into beekeeper Rod on Wednesday who had an update on our newly installed bee hives at Compton Verney, particularly the latest colony to be added into the second hive. In short, the new queen hasn’t fared particularly well, having become weaker over the last few days, and a new queen bee has become necessary to boost an otherwise failing colony.
In light of this, Rod had a good chat with our friends over at ‘Honey Bee Suppliers’, who immediately responded by offering to send out a new queen bee, who is pictured below having just arrived in her postal transport case! It’s hard to believe that bees travel by post, but as one tweeter mentioned it is Royal Mail after all!
A new queen bee arrives for a Compton Verney hive – via post!
It’s hard to see in this image, but she has a little dot of red paint on her back, none harming I hasten to add, so that she may be easily identified and checked when finally introduced into the hive. Let us hope that she settles in quickly and heads up the colony in style!
Hive one I have to say is doing extremely well, and we’re looking forward to harvesting some honey shortly. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that the first crop is very much looked forward to, and I shall bring news and photos of this as soon as possible to show the process.
If you have chance to tour the grounds when next visiting Compton Verney, you’ll be able to see the hives (from a safe distance) in the far corner of the ‘wild-flower’ west lawn, behind the mansion – do pop over to see the bees hard at work!
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.
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.
Rod Oates, Beekeeping volunteer at Compton Verney
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 Continue reading