Welcome to our Bee Blog for 2012





This year we will be sharing our experiences keeping the Bees at Standen National Trust Property, just outside East Grinstead West Sussex.

At Standen, we have started the season with 3 colonies: Lavender, Quince, and Pear, and we are pleased to report that they have all survived the winter.

A visit to have a quick look at the bees on 14th March, a lovely sunny day, revealed bees foraging furiously.


Bees back home




They returned to home absolutely covered in bright yellow pollen.







Bee Pollen




So much so that at first glance, I thought there were wasps entering the hives!










Bee Meeting



I wonder what the conversation here was??





In April, we were contacted by a volunteer from the Woodland group who is a beekeeper who can no longer keep bees. Charlie has kindly donated a colony to Standen and this new colony has been housed in an un-used WBC hive, formerly occupied by a colony called Apple. Unfortunately last year Apple was destroyed by an invasion of wasps. This new colony will be owned and cared for by Karen and Richard Thomas, who have been enthusiastic newcomers to beekeeping.

4th April

We met up with Karen & Richard to do a quick visual check on the hives. It was past 6pm on a very cool evening, so we didn't undertake a full inspection. All hives were alive and well. we decided to meet up again in a week. Let's hope the weather is better!

11th April

Well, the weather wasn't any better, in fact it was worse! Heavy rain and hailstones. so the Girls were left undisturbed today! Watch this space for updates.

18th April

This is getting worrying, this must be the wettest drought we have seen for a while. I am getting concerned that we have not inspected for two weeks now. Need to make the effort to get to the hives at the next available opportunity.

2nd May

At last we have a reasonable day and able to open the hives, just a quick look as the rain wasn't far away. Saw grubs in all colonies except Quince, as the weather turned for the worse. Apple seems to be a bit weak, so some syrup will be delivered tomorrow. Lavender is thriving, and an extra Super was added.

16th May

Good weather, so an opportunity to inspect. All colonies are doing well, Apple is not as strong as the others, but looking healthy. Evidence of Drone cells in Quince and Lavender, a bit scary as they are big grubs!

23rd May

A lovely day, all colonies checked out, Quince were given some more super frames. All others looking very good, pleanty of grubs,eggs spotted in Lavender, and plenty of stores. Apple looked stronger much to Karen & Richard's relief. We had finished inspecting when we were approached by a lady from one of the houses in Standen who had a swarm in her roof. It had just settled that afternoon. Fortunately Neil arrived in time to advise us. We couldn't get to the queen as she was in the roof space. We tried smoking the area and left a Nuc nearby to attract the swarm.

24th May

I revisited the house with the swarm at 07:30, very few bees around, despite being very warm and the sun out. I suspect the swarm has coughed from all the smoke, and moved on. About 6-7 bees were flying around the roof space, but not entering. I will call back later in the day to check it out.......

Called in to find my suspicions were correct, the swarm left last night, good news and bad news really. If they hadn't left they would have to have been exterminated, so they survive, but we didn't get hold of them!

31st May

We met up with Neil & Karen on a beautiful sunny evening unaware of the excitment awaiting us! Apple was inspected first. The is some evidence of Varoa damage to some bees, and a dose of Hive Clean is recommended. During the brood inspection, we saw eggs and brood and The queen too!

Apple Queen


We then moved on to Pear where again we saw eggs, grubs, but not the Queen. All is looking good with Pear. Plenty of space and the Brood looks healthy.

Next came Quince, and it was here that we think we may have found the source of the swarm from last week. Quince has clearly swarmed and we identified several queen cups, but more excitingly we saw a virgin queen emerge as we inspected! She was handled carefully and returned to the brood so she can feed up and prepare for her "Flight of Fancy" to meet the Drones of her dreams! Redundant queen cups were removed.

Emerging Bee


And then on to Lavender, and once again the colony has swarmed! We were assured by Neil that this is not necessarily bad beekeeping, the queen here, we know, was 3 years old, there is plenty of space, so it could have been the right time for the colony to refresh itself. We checked out the queen cups and selected one to keep. We also removed another healthy looking queen cup and placed it in a small breeding box along with some bees to care for the queen when she emerges.

Karen with breeding box

This box was taken home by Karen who fed the bees with syrup. Let's watch with interest to see if we can create a new colony!