Our Bee Keeping Journal Part 2 – Setting up our own hives.
Having met the honey Bees close up a few weeks ago, we really got the bug for Bee keeping here at Pen y Bryn and have set up our very own Bee hives on the orchard! With the help of our expert Bee keeper we selected a breed of Bee called Buckfast to start our journey with.
Buckfast Bees are a good choice for us because they are more resistant to diseases and mites than some of the other Bees and they also suit our climate better which will help them survive over winter. Buckfast Bees produce a good amount of honey and are more tame than other breeds if handled regularly. We had to buy our Bees from a specialist breeder to ensure that they were a pure Buckfast hive, This means they are bred under special conditions so they can’t mix with other Bee strains. A strain with mixed heritage could affect the behaviour and production of the hive. Plus, being new to all this, having a good idea of how our hive should behave will help us look after them better.
Our Bees arrived in 2 boxes called nucs, inside each box were 6 frames. The frames contained everything we need to build a strong colony in our hives over the summer. Including a mixture of worker and drone Bees, brood, food stores and a mated Queen. The honey Bee Queen only needs to mate once in her life, from this single meeting with drones (male bees) who die once they have mated, she takes away enough fertilisation to last her entire reproductive life. Laying up to 2000 eggs per day in a strong and thriving hive.
We were lucky enough to spot the Queen during our first nuc to hive transfer. She has a yellow mark on her back which is paint used by the breeder to mark her making her easier to spot. She stands out from the other bees because her body is longer and she is bigger than the worker Bees. The Bees usually cluster around the queen making her difficult to spot even when marked like this.
The Bees were very active during this hive visit, maybe it was the idea of relocating from their nuc that got them in a flap but you could tell from their unsettled behaviour and the pitch of their buzz that we were not welcome in poking around their hive that day so we got them moved in as quickly as possible and left them to settle into their new surroundings.
Over the next few days the Bees began to settle in well, you could see them flying backwards and forwards going off to explore their new surroundings. Then the weather turned a little colder and the wind picked up, Bees stay inside on days like this to keep warm and dry and to keep the brood warm. When we went to check on them we noticed quite a few deaths in one hive. It looked as though the Bees had been clustered up to keep the brood warm and the bottom layer got chilled by the cold wind and died. We quickly made some adjustments by turning the hive entrance away from the wind direction and adding in some entrance reducers and insulation to the lid and frames, helping to keep the hive warm while the numbers recover. They seemed to like the adjustments and started to get a lot more active over the next few days, while the temperature increased outside they started to fly off again collecting pollen. We will check on them again in a week or so and make sure they are ok, if they are struggling we may need to introduce a little food in the form of sugar syrup for them to give the hive a boost.
If you enjoy being close to nature why not book a stay with us at Pen y Bryn? Our cottages and farmhouse are located on over 25 acres of peaceful farmland just 3 miles inland from Abergele which is right on the stunning North Wales coast. Our diverse range of landscapes including coastal areas, mountains, woodland and farmland offer stunning views and make it a great place to explore the local nature. We also have a number of Farm parks, zoo’s and beautiful gardens to visit in the local area.
You can find prices and availability for our self catering accommodation on our website. With our four, three-bedroom Holiday cottages each sleeping 5 people. You can choose from Heather Cottage and Lavender Cottage or Primrose Cottage and Bluebell Cottage both Pet friendly. For larger groups we have Pen y Bryn Farmhouse, the farmhouse has 4 en-suite bedrooms and sleeps up to 14 adults. Pen y Bryn Farmhouse welcomes well behaved pets. Alternatively you can call us 01745 822344 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.