The weather over the last year has proved challenging for bees across the country. Our bees at Charlecote have been no exception. Last year, in an attempt to increase the number of colonies from 3 to 5, we set up 2 small starter colonies (nuclei). The wet weather last year meant that the small colonies didn’t have the conditions to thrive and build sufficient numbers and stores to get through the winter. Despite feeding the bees, sugar syrup last autumn and fondant over the winter the 2 new colonies failed to survive the winter.
The remaining three colonies have survived and two of them are strong, the third we are currently feeding with syrup in an effort to build them up.
At this time of year strong colonies may swarm if the conditions are right. Before swarming, the colonies send out scout bees to look for suitable sites for the swarm to start a new colony. In an effort to attract any swarms that might occur, and thus replace our lost colonies we are going to be placing empty hives in a number of places around the property in an effort to tempt any swarms with a ready made desirable residence. So if you see hives in strange places around the property they are our bait hives.
We’ll keep you updated as to progress.
Graham, Volunteer bee keeper