This month we are celebrating our super Brentford bees, now where should we begin?
We started keeping bees 10 years ago, with our very first colony collected, on loan, in August 2011. ‘How can you borrow a colony of bees?’ I hear you say, well Andy wasn’t convinced that it was going to work having up to 60,000 stinging insects (per hive) in our Brentford back garden, so a friendly bee keeper offered us a colony on loan allowing us to keep it if we liked it or return it if not.
Both Andy and I were happy with this arrangement as
1) it wasn’t going to cost us anything and
2) we both thought we would be proved right in the process.
As you can guessed, the bees stayed and most of the colonies that we currently have originated from that first queen bee all those years ago.
We are confident that our bees are producing Premier Honey!
Since we started out with that first colony, we have won many awards for both our honey and other products of the hive (wax, honey biscuits, preserves, etc.) at the National Honey Show. We were especially proud to win Best Honey in London and, more recently, for our honey to come 9th in a class that was open to bee keepers all over the world. One of the special things about urban honey is that the bees can often find a great variety of different flowers throughout the year which each yield their own nectar that the bees gather and store as honey. Honey bees will happily forage within a 1.5 mile radius from the hive so ours will be sampling the delights of the gardens at Syon, Boston Manor, local parks and allotments and maybe even Kew.
Earlier this year I discovered that one colony wasn’t strong enough to survive last winter, so February found us with only two colonies (families) of bees in the garden here at Hen Corner. Fortunately, those two colonies built up to become three and since I joined the British Bee Keepers Association Swarm Collectors Team I’ve collected another three colonies binging us up to a total of six colonies.
These hives are base over three different apiaries (sites):
- Here at home, Hen Corner
- Down at the allotment
- At a residential home run by Cyrenians (which happens to be halfway between home and the plot!)
All these extra bees that are doing very well this year, means that we’ve got more honey than ever before! If you are local and can collect, you can order some here.
Be a Bee Keeper for a Day!
Once again, our Bee Keeping courses have been very popular this summer, especially our Bees for Children (see photo above). For those who missed out on the sold out sessions, we’ve got the first dates for next year open for bookings already
Full Day Bee Keeping – Wednesday 20th April, 2022
Bees for Children – Tuesday 31st May, 2022
Last year we were delighted to welcome a young film maker to document The Life Cycle of Honey Bees
- We’ve still got a couple of places left for Pick & Pickle on Tuesday 31st August
- Sourdough September will be celebrated with Courses and new products in the Bakery
- If you fancy starting your own Micro Bakery, we are running a new Become a Bread Angel course in October
Jobs for the week:
- Gather up windfall apples to make Apple & Chilli Jelly
- Make some Cinnamon Swirls for the new Spire Cafe that’s opened in Brentford
- Check the bees on the allotment – I might be missing a queen…
Come on you Bees!
How do you know/check if you’re missing a queen? Is it like doing a register of a class of 60,000?
Almost like a register, as long as one of the girls in the class is taller than the others and is the only one wearing nail varnish!
Have you ever had to say, “If you’re all buzzing at once, I can’t tell who’s answering and who’s not”?
I do talk to them, but in English, they usually reply with a pheromone, but a buzz in middle C is always a good indication that all is well
I jest not! I paint a small blob of nail varnish on the back of the queen’s thorax which makes her easier to spot and determine her age (a different colour for each year). Again, like that student that always stands out, as long as I can see evidence of her work (newly laid eggs and hatched larvae), I know that she’s present and doing her job