We didn't take any Spring honey as the season was so poor we decided to leave what honey had been made for the bees to use. However the summer was better and we were able to harvest some Summer Honey while still leaving plenty for the colonies in our Hives.
If you want Honey from the Abbots Langley area (i.e. Local Honey) then please do get in touch with the society via the contact us email: email@example.com
We now have only two colonies at the apiary, one that was a strong colony and one with a small colony which was developing slowly.
The small colony was transferred to one of my Polly Nucs for the winter as it would not have survived in a full size hive.
Not sure why the other strong colony failed, I thought that it was being robbed in late autumn and that may have been the cause? I am currently inspecting the remains to try and determine the cause of its collapse.
Although there was some spring honey it was decided to leave it on the hives for the bees in case they needed it as the weather had been so variable and generally bad.
I have now "Jarred" all of this years honey which is now available for purchase in 4oz, 8oz and 12oz jars.
The new owners of the property where we have been keeping the bees are very happy for the bees to remain there - so great news.
It now remains to ensure that the colonies have enough food to get them through the winter which is proving to be a bit problematic at the moment as the weather has been so mild that they are trying to forage but not finding much but are using a lot of energy in doing so.
Fondant has been added to each colony to ensure that have something to feed on and this will be checked during future weeks.
ChrisB, Apiary Manager.
If you would like details of getting involved then please get in touch via the contacts us form on the Home page (hit the button below).
Originally produced by Kate Macnish and now updated and reformatted for 2022 by ChrisB as it is an extremely useful insight into the world of honey bees and pollinators in general.
Some Thoughts on How to Plant for Pollinators.
With Spring approaching, you may be mulling over purchasing new plants and, hopefully,
I have been nagging you so much about planting for pollinators that you will be looking specifically at pollinator friendly shrubs, bedding plants, trees, etc.
If only it was as straightforward as that!
Reading January’s 2020 BBKA (British Beekeepers Association) News, an article by Gerry Collins on “Why are Honey Bees Ignoring the Flowers?” caught my eye.
I will try and summarise his research findings:
Planting ‘bee-friendly’ plants will not necessarily result in an increase in the number of honeybees foraging in your garden, and if you see honeybees in your garden, they may not be that interested in many of the flowers you have so lovingly planted. Plants sold as ‘bee friendly’, may not be suitable for honeybees, but could be a good forage source for other pollinators.
Many plants and packets of seed bought from garden centers and supermarkets provide little or no nectar.· Some flowers are physically inaccessible to honeybees, needing the weight of a bumble bee to open them – such as antirrhinums, White flowering garden pea plants are self-pollinating and inaccessible to pollinators.
Competition is a major factor – scout bees will search out a mass of flowers and will return to their colony with a nectar sample and will instruct all the foragers, by way of their ‘waggle dance’, where to find this new abundance of forage.
Once foragers find that source, they will work it until it is exhausted. They will probably fly over many flowering gardens to reach it, but they work as a super-organism and will rarely be diverted from following their leaders to the recommended forage source.
This is not new knowledge; it was noted by Aristotle in 340BC, and is known as ‘flower constancy’ behavior.
Another factor is the sugar content of available nectar; this is a product of photosynthesis.
Pollinators will not bother with flowers with little or no nectar on offer, unless they are foraging specifically for pollen. I was surprised to read that although we often see bees on, e.g., poppies and gorse, these are nectar-free and the bees are only there for their pollen. I was also surprised to read that dandelions provide nectar with a sugar content of 40% or more, so are more attractive to pollinators than, say, fruit trees in bloom whose flowers provide nectar with a sugar content of around 10%.
Weather plays its part, of course. Some flowers don’t even open up during cold, wet, windy or overcast days. The warmer and sunnier the day, the more nectar will be produced through photosynthesis. You can see this if you see two bushes of the same variety with one in the shade and one in the sunshine. The shady plant will have fewer insects on it compared to the one in the sunnier position.
Time of day is also important. Honeybees have a strong sense of time and will only visit some flowers that have a time limited period of nectar production, such as Allium flowers which produce a peak of nectar in late morning and early evening, re-absorbing nectar during the afternoon and overnight.
During periods of drought, forage is hard to find and the best source for nectar at these times would be from deep-rooted trees such as sweet chestnuts.
Blackberries apparently produce different amounts of nectar depending on whether the flowers are on thick or thin stems; the thicker stems carry flowers that are richer in nectar.
Once a flower has been pollinator it will cease producing nectar, the petals will fade, scent will be lost and the flower will change colour, indicating to passing pollinators that they won’t find anything to forage on.
Flowers and bees ‘communicate’ with electrical signals: flowers have a weak electrical field around them and tend to be negatively charged; the hairs on bees are positively charged. Visiting a flower changes the electrical potential of the flower temporarily, which can be detected by other passing pollinators who will know not to stop.
I am sure you will have been as surprised as I am, and continue to be, to find out just how clever our pollinators are, and how much goes on in our gardens that we really know nothing about. Beekeeping has opened up a whole new world for me and I do wish I had started out when I was much younger!
If any of this information sparks an interest in you in beekeeping, do contact Chris or me (via the website or Facebook page) and we would be very happy to introduce you to the most fascinating world of pollinators, and to our apiary bees if you want!
Happy New Year and happy gardening!
Gardening at the Apiary