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How has the experiment with bees on Farnborough Road allotment gone?
Hi John – thanks for asking – the short answer is that it is way too early to tell!!
Much to the neglect of the veg and fruit, we spent much of the Spring attending the practical bee keeping course at Tilford and preparing our aipary area in the corner plot. Finally in mid-July we got the bees. This was a lot later than planned, mainly due to the awful weather. We started with a 5-frame “nucleus” which includes a new queen, some brood (eggs), workers (flying bees) and stores (honey), perhaps around 10,000 bees in total. The theory is that this nucleus will find plently of nectar and pollen and rapidly expand to fill the entire hive (~60,000 bees) at the height of the summer. Well, our bees seemed to settle in well, and are very docile – the children enjoyed having a good close up look when the hive was open. But (again probably due to the poor weather) took quite a while to expand numbers up to the full hive. By this time, the Summer was over and most beekeepers were thinking of harvesting their honey crop from their hives, but we decided not to take any honey in this first year because we had been so late in starting.
Had quite a bit of interest from neighbouring plot holders, although it took some a while to realise that the bees were actually there, as you don’t really see them unless you look within 3ft of the hive. No problems reported, but I guess too early for anyone to say whether they have noticed a benefit in terms of crops (but out raspberries were very prolific this year!!). Any plot holders got any feedback?
The last job of the season (once you’ve taken the bees honey!) is to make sure that they have enough stored food to see them through the winter. This is done by giving them a thick solution of sugar and water. Our bees took about 6 litres of the stuff, which I think shows how poor the summer had been.
So we have fed and prepared our bees for Winter and now there is not much us poor beekeepers can do apart from hope that our colony makes it through the Winter and has enough bees and food left in the Spring to allow them to start the whole process over again next season. Otherwise it’s been a rather time consuming and expensive adventure. So fingers crossed for next Summer – will let you know if they make it through the Winter.
As site rep I have not had any adverse comments so far.Frank.
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