This year was a bit different for our bees. We have established a couple of honeybee hives on the roof of the new terrace block and usually the bees come and go without anyone noticing. They go about their business collecting nectar and pollen from our flowers and from the Nether Edge neighbourhood.
This year - on May 9th – the queen from one of the hives took off and was followed by about 20,000 worker bees. The swarm paused for a while on our picnic table before taking off into the trees.
A few of us got them down from the tree and put them in a special bee box (nucleus). In the evening the bees calmly walked back into their own hive.
Nine days later the bees swarmed again and made the job even harder by settling in a much higher tree next to the Lodge House on Brincliffe Crescent, luckily still on our land. This time it required our very longest ladders in full extension and full climbing and bee keeping gear to bring the clumps of bees back down again.
The bees were re-introduced to their hive, but it was unclear if either of the colonies would be viable, or if the queens had been resettled and would remain in their hives.
Over the next four months both colonies thrived in the warm weather, and no more attempts at swarming were made. Both queens seemed to be productive and we were able harvest 24 kilos of On the Brink Honey in September.
The behaviour of the two colonies is very different since the episodes of swarming earlier this year. While one set of bees is entirely docile, the second colony is full of seriously angry bees. We might have to get a new queen for this colony and perhaps we will set up a third colony to get a bigger crop of honey next year.