As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Andy Bailey, the knowledgeable beekeeping hero who supports our hives at the Rough Close Works farming estate in Derbyshire, has reported that the bees are continuing to do well in these highly unusual times.
Here’s a report of his latest findings for June:
It’s all about location
Bees are hard-wired to recognise their surroundings and importantly their hive. I am sure I have mentioned before that bees map out the area around their hive – up to a three-mile radius.
So when moving a colony beekeepers typically use the rule of thumb ‘less than three feet a day or more than three miles’. Simply speaking, it means that if I moved a colony six or ten feet for example from its original location, the bees would not find it and would go back to the location the hive was in previously.
However, if they are moved more than three miles away, they will consider the area to be all-new terrain. The foraging bees will then perform an orientation flight and zone in on their new location, before returning safely to the hive.
Now I have re-housed the nucleus colony into a full hive, I make sure that I move it about three feet closer to its intended destination each time I visit the apiary. By the time I write July’s Newsletter I should have just about completed the move process.
Concerns for the queen
So now it’s a waiting game again with that particular colony. Even bees have their own complex politics, with those who don’t perform to the satisfaction of the masses out on their ear! I am hoping that this current run of warm, settled weather continues, as it will give our newly emerged queen (if all goes well) the opportunity to hatch, mate well and return to her colony to produce lots of worker bees with the potential to carry the colony through the winter, which is what it is all about.
The bees notice the subtle environmental changes that we might miss. We have now passed the summer solstice and for the bees the focus is on gathering plenty of stores and producing as many worker bees as they can to accomplish that, thereby ensuring survival during the winter months.
Until July then!
Keep safe and healthy.