Paula Carnell is a global beekeeping consultant, writer and speaker from Somerset. Previously an artist, Paula became interested in bees in 2008 after falling ill with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Her book about the next seven years ‘From Artist to Bees’, is available from her website
She is currently looking after and helping to establish bee colonies on an 800-acre estate in the South-West of England. Here is the latest update...
With the beautiful weather and the gardens in full bloom, the bees are busy making the most of the nectar flow by building up their stores.
Bait Hives. (6 in use)
WBC sized: Badgers Run, Gore orchard: ‘Sarah’. Golden Sized: Cuppa & Bakery - All still empty.
Druid Tree - This colony are busy using both entrances, so we shall open up next week to see how full they are.
Amber - Like Druid, this colony are bursting at the seams. We need to consider moving them into a larger hive or taking some honey to make more space.
Sylvia -Have now moved into the upper super and are drawing out comb and filling with honey.
Grace - These bees are working on the upper (second) super and have filled three frames with honey and are drawing out comb on a further two frames
Alison - Has caught up with the others and is filling the second super.
Winifred - Also working hard and filling up with honey. We’ll check inside over the coming week to see if she has any spare for us to extract.
Joy - Despite a little optimism last week, wasps have begun to attack. We need to decide whether or not to add a brood comb from a stronger colony and to relocate, or allow her to be a sacrificial colony to the wasps, possibly saving the other colonies in this apiary.
Freda - A lovely, friendly colony, still popping out to see the visitors on the Bee Safaris. We shall plan a look inside soon.
Druid - These girls surprised me by their extraordinary growth. Opening up, expecting to find empty frames, they had filled the hive. Unfortunately, when lifting out the outer comb to check whether they were storing honey or brood in this frame, the fragile wax came away and the comb fell to the base of the hive.
I retrieved some of the damaged comb with honey, filling a large jar, and apologised profusely. I needed to return with more equipment to help clean up the mess I’d made but by the time I’d returned, the bees had cleaned up all the honey and only empty wax was left. I removed that as they had already begun drawing out new comb in the empty frame.
Despite this, they weren’t angry with me and carried on bringing in the nectar and pollen from the gardens nearby. They are using all four entrances now.
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Druid among Arbutus and St John's Wort.
Freedom Hive ‘Deana’ - Gently expanding but again. With their close proximity to the gardens, they stand a good chance of collecting enough nectar to see them through the winter.
Marl Pit Skep hive, Holly - The hazel and elder saplings that had sprung up in front of the skeps were kindly removed by Dean of the woodland team. This allowed more sunlight to reach the skep bees and enabled unobstructed viewing from the bank. They were grateful to Dean for his work, and did not attack or sting him while he sawed away!
Hard at work!
Emily - The larger lime trees have now finished blossoming, and younger trees are now coming into bloom, which is great for bees and humans alike. White clover is also coming into bloom in the orchard, which the bees are enjoying.
Flowhive swarm: Petra - Pleased to see Petra settling in and busy collecting nectar and pollen. The new orchard is attractive, as the phacelia is starting to bloom. Phacelia is a fantastic source of nectar and pollen for bees and is often used in bee regeneration programs. It blossoms for six weeks, helping bees by supplying a constant nectar flow throughout the daylight hours. #
Cuppa - Opening up after Druid, I was disappointed to see the growth has been much slower. Although we split this colony from Compass in May, Druid moved in on May 12th and so have had a similar time to expand. The temperature is always a few degrees cooler at Gristway, which may negatively affect the bees. A woodland border is currently growing, which may help.
Compass - Busy. Golden frames are much larger than conventional beehives, so they are large enough a colony to survive the winter. But there certainly isn’t surplus honey from either colony this season.
Warre hive - Quietly expanding at an astonishing rate, these bees have added more frames of comb in their top box. Six frames of fresh white comb can be seen, each about a third of the size of a Golden hive frame.
Oak - Bees spotted, busy again and can be seen as specks of light going in and out of the trunk high up above the fork in the branches.
Lime - Lovely to see these bees still busy after the lime blossom has finished. I wonder if they were perhaps a swarm from Cuppa or Compass?
A young lime tree.
Ash - Easier to watch than the Oak, despite also being very high up. Unlike previous years, this colony are only using the larger entrance at the top.
Zeidler hive - Not attracted any bees as yet. The top entrance may be too large.
All areas of the gardens are busy with bees, the sedum in the Parabola particularly attractive at the moment to bumbles, solitary and honey bees.
Bee count, 4 WBC, 2 Warre, 2 Freedom, 2 Flowhive plus 3 Golden (Cuppa, Compass, Druid oak)1 skep (Holly,) & 3 wild (Oak, ash & lime). Bait hives 2 Total 19