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Beekeeping in July

Jan-Doyle-bee-hives

At this time of year the honeybee swarming instinct should start to diminish.  Having said that, bees are bees and don’t always read the same books that we do!  This year has been quite a busy year where swarming is concerned with many bees being re-homed successfully.  There are however times when swarm collection isn’t as easy as one would wish.  If a swarm takes up residence within the fabric of a building they pose a very difficult problem.

Swarm3-300x201In order to successfully remove a swarm you need to make sure you capture the queen.   If they are in a chimney or a cavity wall this presents a difficult challenge.  If the bees aren’t too ensconced within a building, some beekeepers are happy to perform what is called a “cut out” where part of the building is dismantled in order for the queen, brood, honeycomb and adhering bees to be cut away and put into a hive.  This is not very often a practical or welcome solution.  If you are unfortunate enough to be in this situation it is perhaps better to discuss the options.  You can always drop us an email info@newburybeekeepers.org.uk.  Don’t be tempted to just block up the hole where the bees are entering your house.  They may just find an exit inside the building!

We also get a lot of calls about bumble bees or solitary bees.  These bees love taking up residence in soffits, bird boxes, small cavities or underground.  If left alone they will not bother you and the good news is that by the end of August they will have moved on of their own accord vacating their summer residence for good.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has an excellent website full of fascinating information and facts.  You can find them at www.bumblebeeconservation.org

We have all seen the listless bee sitting on a window ledge or on the floor. You can sometimes revive the bee with a drop of sugar water.  It is wonderful to see a large bumble bee regain her strength after drinking the syrup.  Please don’t be tempted to feed them honey and please wash out your honey jars before putting them out for recycling.  Much of our supermarket honey is imported and can contain diseases which are easily passed on to bee colonies.  American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood are notifiable diseases and the result is colonies having to be destroyed.

Last month we visited the fabulous rose gardens at Mottisfont Abbey.  I thought it was brilliant to see people so engrossed in the wonderful blooms that they were totally unaware of the hundreds and hundreds of bees working away gathering nectar and pollen right underneath their noses.  You don’t have to keep bees to appreciate them, just spend a while in a garden and enjoy these fascinating and magical creatures.

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