This is one way to get Honey Bees out of a tree…

This story begins at Gate 1K in Edinburgh airport awaiting to board a plane to Bristol.  We were on our way back home after visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which by the way I must say is amazing, what a great city Edinburgh is, I would recommend you visit…


So anyway back to the airport, I mean story…  Whilst stood amongst fellow passengers at Gate 1K, I turned my telephone on to check for messages.  A new message arrived, it was from my answer phone…

The message went along the lines of: Bees in a tree! Need removing! Would you help?

Of course, I just had to call them back to get more details on how I could help.  I arranged to visit them the following morning to fix this little quandary, and boy it was a spectacular quandary.

Workmen carrying out tree maintenance cut through a branch of an Ash tree, with unexpected consequences.  Honey bees began flying around in distress which was the reason for my presence here.  The Ash tree had enormous hollows throughout most of its trunk and branches, living inside approx 15 – 20 feet up inside a branch, were a large colony of Honey bees.  Due to the branch being removed the previous day, the bees retreated to the hollow trunk as a lot of their comb fell to the ground along with the branch.


After careful thought, these Honey bees could not continue to live inside the tree successfully, they would not of been able to survive the winter and spring due to the amount of comb that was lost at this time of the year (23rd August), their home is now compromised, so the threat of robbing, exposure to the elements or attack was extremely high and and therefore they needed to be re-homed urgently.  Some scratching of the head was required to figure out how to remove and re-home them as gently as possible.  I did not want to do this to them but it was their only chance.

The re-homing part of this for me is easy, get one of my bee-homes and insert bees, however on this occasion removing them was going to be a challenge.  Due to their location within the tree, it required cutting them out.  Thankfully the workmen who found them the day before were on hand to assist with this part.  

The Ash was felled expertly and lowered ever so gently to the ground.  Now that this was on ground level, it made life easier for me to get eyes on and access to them.  I tried to get a closer look inside but more surgery of the Ash was required.   It required drilling deep holes into the tree at certain points, which allowed me to ascertain where the colony was, which in turn allowed me to inform the workman where to cut.  

Time to give the bees a hand job…

When I said “it’s time to give the bees a handjob”, the two workmen found this extremely funny.  In fact this was the second time that I had them laughing a lot.  The first time came when I moved my bee collection kit box to a safe place just behind my car, shortly afterwards I needed to move my car and so jumped in and reversed over the box destroying it into many pieces, many laughs were had at my expense.

After some fine cuts with the chainsaw, I was now able to get my hands inside and retrieve some of the comb and transfer some of the ladies into a box for transporting.  Here I was able to see properly the extent of the ladies home, comb with brood, all stages of bee development and honey all stored in substantially tough comb, which tells me that they were living here for some time.


In total it must of took 3 and a half hours to get them from there.  

The plan was to leave them to settle down for the afternoon and return that evening to collect them.  However in the adjacent field were rather large cows, bulls and sheep, who were beginning to get curious as to our presence in the field.  Trusting these livestock was an issue, so it was decided to transport the bees sooner rather than later.  So after collecting all of the remaining comb and as many bees as possible, we headed off into the distance.

We drove the few miles through the rather bumpy lanes on our way to the main road, incredibly carefully and slowly.  This was to not disturb the bees any further as there were tens of thousands of bees in the boot of my car, inside a container while some other honey bees were taking the journey with me but sitting on the dashboard and looking out of the window listening to a bit of Mumford and Sons.  
Upon a sharp left corner, a Mercedes car and my car came head to head abruptly.  I was not speeding but it still required me to put my brakes on hard and fast, giving thanks to my slow speed and the ABS for not crashing.  Another car was behind me so the Mercedes had to wait on this corner for us to pass.  The driver put his window down and gave me a disgusting look of anger which quickly changed to looking completely puzzled as he noticed my choice of clothing at that time, which was a bee-keepers suit with the veil up.

Later that evening the lovely honey bees were re-homed and are now living in one of my bee-homes until a discussion is had to determine their final resting place.  At least they are now living in a safe place being well looked after.

I cannot imagine the stress that they went through the past few days.  I feel sad, almost remorse that I needed to destroy an item of such real outstanding beauty, another amazing example of Honey bees living naturally with no help from humans, providing some much needed proof to question the current scepticism of some critics.  From this destruction and death though, comes life.  Although their situation was dire, they have been given another opportunity. 

Even though previously I felt sad about their situation, I now feel joy, I feel pride and a great sense of achievement.  
I feel this because I build beehives, I build bee-homes  I build beautiful homes for beautiful bees, people get in touch with me to purchase a bee-home or to inform me of bees living in an unsuitable location.  It is a great feeling, knowing that I’m extending life by giving a lovely colony of honey bees another chance of survival, albeit through delivering homes, training or education.   

The episode confirmed once again my inner compulsion to work for them and I will continue to do everything in my power to aid our bees, regardless of where they come from, their colour or their previous history.  I genuinely struggle to find adequate words to portray the consuming awe I feel when spending time with them and I feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to be able to spend some of my life making friends with our honey bees.  

On this occasion, even though it was me who decided whether they had a next chapter in life, it was me who was disturbing them, it was me who moved them by hand.  The fact is… that they still allowed me into their home, they did not attack me, they allowed me to work at the best of my ability, to be able to improve their situation.

For that humble bee, I salute you

Resistance is futile Gwenyn Mel 2…

This morning I returned to the workshop to check on the previous days swarm from Gwenyn Mel 2.  I peeked inside the window and was greeted by the sight of a mass of bees… Excellent… I thought, they like their new home…

At this point I decided to phone my Warré beekeeping friend and guru that is David Heaf.  We were have a nice chat about the bees and other bee related lines of conversation when I noticed that the bees in the Warré hive had decided that the Warré was just not quite adequate enough for them.  Hundreds, then thousands of them were pouring out of the hive and getting ready to swarm again.  Thankfully I was speaking with David who gave me short and simple advice to fix this little quandary.

Time to don the suit and gloves again and get the box ready to collect the absconded bees.  Without hesitation they went into the same field as yesterday, probably ready to have a laugh at my expense watching me clamber over that fence again.  This time though they decided to go that little further and thankfully for me settled on some ferns about 3 foot off the ground around 200 metres away in the next field over again. 
 

I really did not want to lose this prime swarm from Gwenyn Mel 2, they were a large swarm who have worked wonders so far this year, and as it happens, came from the swarm that I collected last August 29th 2012 which thinking back now was quite a memorable day.

Well the bees are now in the box, time to return them immediately to their Warré with one slight modification.  Once again the bees has changed my plans for the day but I intended this to be as swift as it could possibly bee.

After another debacle, climbing over the fence, I headed straight for my workshop to collect a queen excluder.  The bees were placed nearby the hive while I got it ready for their arrival.  Time to remove the roof, quilt, top bar cloth and top bars and place all of it to one side, as I placed a queen excluder between the bottom box and next box up.  It is a somewhat surreal experience transferring bees from cylindrical container to a hive, literally pouring bees from one box into another and using a brush to gently persuade the others to go in also.

I returned the top bars, top bar cloth, quilt and roof as quickly as possible without causing more disruption to them.  The reason for the queen excluder this time it to prevent the queen passing through into the bottom box and absconding again, taking the rest of them for another adventure.  The queen excluder will stay in situ for a couple of days just to ensure that they decide to settle in this home, so they can make it their own.

After allowing them to settle down, the visible signs of the queen inside were becoming apparent, with bees heading into the Warré hive and bee bums raised in the air telling all others to head this way, excellent…

Time for reflection and calm now… 

So as I lay down beside them to watch them regain order from their adventure from the previous hour, I begin making films and taking more photos, not only for my memory, but also so that I can share my experiences with you, as I’m sure you want to have a small insight into our adventures.  

Hopefully my record of photos and films will inspire you or others to get involved with bees or maybe even help you one day if you so happen to bee in a similar situation yourself.  

Anyway, time now for me log off and have some nice happy dreams.

Dabor 

The swarmy ones

On Tuesday 16th July I was sat on the bench just outside my workshop taking in the view and enjoying a well deserved break.  There was beautiful sunlight and an overpowering heat from the sun, freshly picked radishes to munch on, horses to watch, birds to listen to and then there is a noise…

This noise was gradually getting louder as the time flowed on by me.  I looked up and there was the reason for this noise, it was my bees.  There must of been a few dozen of them flying around in patterns around 3 foot above my head, within a few minutes there were hundreds of bees and the noise was dominating more and more… Oh well break time is over…

I stood up and stepped towards the hive to see what was happening, it appeared that the ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2 were thinking about swarming.  Quickly I went to the workshop to retrieve my bee suit, gloves, a box and most importantly my phone, as I needed to make a quick phone call to cancel some work that I was expected to go to that afternoon and so that I could record this experience.

The sky in front of me was transforming before my very eyes, the previously mentioned hundreds of bees had increased to thousands, then increased to tens of thousands, honey bees were flying in amazing swirling patterns in the sky, the noise of their tiny wings flapping was inspiring, obviously my first thoughts were to record this experience and share it with you.

I was fully kitted out with suit and gloves with a phone recording some of the Honey bee adventures. 

Ever so gradually they were hovering towards the hedge line nearby, so I clambered through the ditch to look into the next field to see the general direction that they were heading in.  Luckily for me they began to settle on a branch nearby, however to get to it was not going to be an easy task.  So after moving along the hedge line I noticed a potential way through into the adjacent field, but it did require climbing through a heavily overgrown ditch with stingy nettles, brambles and a temporary wooden barrier.

They were only 10 metres from their hive, but it must of took me 10 minutes just to get to them.  More filming of the swarm was required, my senses were in overdrive, being in awe of the noise that was being produced by the bees, awe of the sight of tens of thousands of bees flying around me, again in these amazing swirling patterns.  However I was there to collect the majority of the bees, place them into the box and return them to another home made by me.

Whilst waiting for the bees to settle down, I began to struggle with the heat from the sun, it was 1430hrs or 2.30pm on a cloudless, scorcher of a day, sweat was coming from parts of my body I didn’t realise sweated.

After waiting for them to settle down and recording their activities on film, it was time to move them back towards their new home.  After another fence climbing expedition and walking an incredibly long way around I was back on familiar ground.  I decided to settle them down on the lawn under the shade from an apple tree.  The box was turned upside down with an entrance made for them to return, as they all settle back down, then a tarpaulin sheet was placed over the top of the box to exclude as much light as possible.  They finally calmed down around 1715hrs or 5.15pm, just enough time for me to change attire and drive to the reservoir to do a spot of cooling down in a kayak.

The plan was… To leave them inside the box to calm down, return after kayaking around 2100hrs 9pm to transfer them into a new home.  This time my accommodation choice for them had changed, previously they had lived inside one of my National Beehives, now however they were to be moved into my brand new and sparkling Warré Hive.  

After some assistance from a fantastically, patient friend, we managed to move them into their new Warré and left them alone in peace to adjust to their new surroundings.  

All that is left to do tonight is, return my friend home, and for me I must return in the morning to check on the lovely ladies.  TIme for bed I think.

Nos da, cysgu yn dda

The questions that children ask…

Recently I was invited to attend a class of children, 7 and 8 years of age to talk about keeping bees.

So just after the half term holidays had ended and schools had returned to activity, I popped in for a chat at the end of a Tuesday afternoon to Cross Ash Primary School.  I was greeted with a wonderfully warm welcome and “oh you’re the Bee Man” followed quickly by lots of children who caught a glimpse of the bee hive that I was carrying, their response to this sight was jubilation. 

Whilst it was still break time for them, I was led straight to the class for me to set up.  I certainly do not remember my class room at that age, but I certainly hope it was as eye-catching as theirs.

Every available space was packed with information.  I spent a few minutes reading Welsh from the walls and admiring their hard work.  

When the teacher and children arrived, I was greeted in Welsh by the whole class, which meant I was to have an unexpected practical exam in Welsh, luckily for me my Welsh head was working in partnership with my consciousness that day which meant I replied and did not feel daft if my brain went blank.

And so it was my time… To speak to the children that is.  Huge disappointment appeared on their faces when their teacher told them they had to wait until the end of my talk for them to ask questions.  

They were all sat down eager with excitement, while I was stood contemplating on how best to present my knowledge in a manner in which they would understand.

So I began talking about the equipment that bee-keepers use, and showing them around a training hive which I brought to show them.  A training hive is an amazing aid to use.  Basically it is a brood chamber filled with frames which have photographs on them showing the reality of life inside a colony of Honey Bees, the children went absolutely mental for it.

I find it a real pleasure speaking with children, their thirst for knowledge is second to none, their thought processes amaze me and it actually helps me breakdown the world of bee-keeping as I need to articulate myself talking about a very broad and adult orientated subject on a level that inspires, excites and is educational to the future of our world.

After I finished my talk, it was open to the floor for questions, amazingly not a single hand stayed down, all shouting “me, me, me”.  (I cannot remember any time that I attended an event with adults where there was such a similar level of enthusiasm).

Some of the questions were:
“How many bees are there in the world?” 
so I replied “well there are some 20,000 known species of bee the world” 
to which I was interrupted with “no I meant how many bees are there actually living in the world right now?”
While my brain was contemplating doing some insane and impossible mental arithmetic with average numbers in colonies, by species of bees, I overheard a reply from the floor stating that “there must be zillions of them”.
Good answer.

“Where is the worst place that you have been stung?”
My initial thoughts were, ‘in Newport’ or ‘up a tree,’ but I decided on going with “on my right hand”.

Some of the other questions included:
‘How long do Queens live?’
‘Why do you steal their honey?’
‘Have you named your Bees?’
‘How high do Bees fly?’
‘Will they sting me?’
along with many others.

Between the unexpected welsh exam and the absolute concentration from them, to their fantastic questions, I had an amazing time…

I cannot wait for the next time I get an opportunity to speak to a class about something which I love doing.  I strongly urge you to share your knowledge with children if you also have the opportunity, it is unbelievably rewarding.






And so the swarming season begins for GlastonBees.

Today (Wednesday the 5th of June 2013) I was telephoned and informed of a swarm of Honey Bees at a residential garden in the urban jungle that is Cwmbran.  Whilst talking on the telephone I was given a telephone number of who to call and an address.  Yeyyy… Honey Bees…

So after calling the number I arranged to be there within the hour to re-home a colony of Honey Bees.  Firstly I needed to visit my workshop, collect my bee keeping suit and other paraphernalia   Lots of excitement was beginning, thinking of collecting some Bees, however there was also anxiety… because last time I collected Honey Bees it was not a performance I would like to repeat.

A little while later I arrived at the house, pressed the door bell and waited for a response.  A gentleman answered the door and we proceeded to go straight into the back garden to get a look at where exactly these ladies have settled, thankfully for me (and them) they were about head height in an easy to reach bush.

Now to my plan of attack, no that is a bad choice of words… My approach goes a little something like this, in order of priority: 

Put bee suit on;
Take some photos;
Use loppers to prune the bush;
Take some photos;
Position empty box underneath colony;
Use loppers to cut branch and lower colony into box;
Stand back, and wait to confirm that the Queen is inside the box;
Take some photos and video;
Pack up my belongings;
Try and get a cuppa tea;
Confirm that the Queen is inside and collect as many workers as possible;
Load the car;
Transport the Bees to their new home.


Amazingly and wonderfully my approach worked perfectly without a hitch (as if it would happen any other way), it did help that I noticed the neighbour set up a video camera and I didn’t fancy them taking £250 from You’ve been Framed.  Now that the ladies are in the car, it is time for us to take a trip to their new home.  It was a lovely 17 or something like that mile journey in the car listening to a bit of Muse on the way (I think the ladies like Muse, especially “New born” and “plug in baby”) with the air-con on the lowest setting.  

Well the ladies couldn’t of picked a finer day to be re-homed, glorious sunshine, warmth and the fact that I had some spare time.  So the bee suit went back on, I set the hive up and began to move the ladies into their new but temporary home.  After some 40 minutes or so they had settled down enough to walk near them without the suit on, with pride oozing from me from such a professional, without incident swarm collection.

The next chapter for these lovely ladies begins this weekend or early next week as they get moved into their brand new, sparkly home (it wont actually be sparkly).  I have been asked to build a Warré Hive for a customer, so looking forward to completing this type of hive and move the ladies into their final home for them.  

Lets wish for a fantastic summer of weather so these and all pollinators have the best possible chance of reproducing, pollinating and surviving until next year.

Bikes, Boobs, and 100 miles

A few months ago… Some friends and I decided to take part in a charity bike ride.  This is a small piece of a much bigger plan to make changes to our lives.

This small piece of the plan consists of cycling 100 miles over 2 days in the beautiful setting of the South Cornwall coast.  Its not for the faint hearted but certainly something that is a challenge for us all but we are sure we will reep the rewards of achievement, personal goals, fitness and satisfaction for making time to do this.
We are cycling in a team called “Bumbling Boobees” in an event called Bikin for Boobies which is organised by a Breast cancer awareness charity called Coppafeel.  For more information about Coppafeel please follow this link
http://www.coppafeel.org/
This has been quite a rushed task giving ourselves just 2 and a half months to get ready. 
It all started with a 3 and a half mile ride leading up to 7 miles, then up to 10 miles, 15 miles but we got stuck on 22 miles for a while due to injuries that kept recurring for me.  I was experiencing lots of pain in my right knee, something that I’m used to since leaving the British Army as my knees have never been the same since.  But after seeing a Sports massage therapist, a doctor and a Physiotherapist the problem was finally found.
My right knee is certainly where the pain is but it is actually part of an unexpected problem.  I have had knots found in my bum, my IT band and thigh.  6 knots were found and they were tightening my upper right leg muscles which in turn were pulling my Patella Ligament out of alignment which holds my knee cap in place.  So basically friction from a ligament not moving in its normal place caused me to contemplate my taking part in this bike ride and to seek professional help.
After Physiotherapy, massage, new stretches, ice packs, cold water baths and plenty of rest was needed to get me passed the 22 mile point.  I managed to reduce my recovery time after a ride from 3 days down to just a few hours.
We knew that we could get me passed this 22 mile obstacle.  So last week we done a 40 mile ride, it took us 5 and a half hours, with a few stops especially for me to stretch, even so the pain reappeared at mile 30 but sheer determination or stubbornness got me to the 40 mile finish line.
All of us have loved cycling recently but knew that something was not quite right.  It was decided to visit a friend who is a bit of a cycling guru.  After meeting up with him it was shown that our bikes were not suitable for the event that we are taking part in.  For me personally, instead of mutilating my bike to make it more user friendly it was decided to rent a bike for the event.  I did experience a lot of disappointment realising that my position on my bike was causing my problems.  I have used this bike for the past 9 years for mountain biking, trails and short trips but it is not suitable for the longer journey.  So now I am very much looking forward to using a hybrid bike which is a road bike but with more comfort like a mountain bike (or so I have been reliably informed).  The main point I took from the meeting that day was that if I can cycle 40 miles on my bike, then 50 or more miles should be no problem on the hybrid bike that is coming my way soon.
Only time will tell.
I will keep you updated with the event, as it is this coming weekend
If you would like to sponsor me by donating towards the breast cancer awareness charity called Coppafeel, then please follow this link
http://www.justgiving.com/Ian-Glastonbury

Best wishes
Ian

Bugglington Manor…

It’s good to know that my appreciation of the environment and my building skills do not go unrecognised…
Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran
Staff at Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran http://www.llanyrafonmanor.org/ commissioned GlastonBees to build them a selection of bug habitats to enhance the biodiversity in their spectacular grounds. Reluctant to take time away from building beehives but also intrigued, I decided, that on balance, with the recent weather being so cold the bees wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer while I considered the challenge.

Habitats request list included items for:
Birds;
Ladybirds;
Spiders;
Frog and toads;
Solitary bees;
and an all encompassing bug haven.
Of course, I obliged…
The majority of the items are commonly available to purchase but I chose to build them to my own liking using certain designs and materials.
Solitary Bee logs
Western Red Cedar Bird nesting box

Ladybird Tower

Larch Frog / Toad shelter

Larch bird nesting box
With new residences built and drilled, all that remained was the pinnacle of this project… A vision of a “multi species bug haven.” The Manor staff brim with ideas and there is no doubt that their suggestion of a structure with the silhouette of Llanyrafon Manor on it provided an excellent starting point.  The staff also have creative imaginations, however they could not foresee that something inside of me wanted to make something different, something spectacular, so I convinced them we should up the challenge and build a scaled model of the whole building,
The initial drawing
First realisation of the buildings footprint

After spending several hours, looking at photos of the building and playing around on Google Sketch-up (a 3D rendering program), the design was conceived.

With a deadline looming, it was time to do a spot of shopping… 43 metres of timber, screws, clout nails, slate and lead free flashing was needed for this job, not forgetting learning how to cut slate and to further that, slate a roof.

Bugglington quickly became quite a priority, not only because of the timescale but because it consumed almost all of the floor space in the workshop, meaning that other machines were out of action and not much room for walking around in there.

After many hours in the workshop, which included: several headaches trying to figure out how to transform what I saw on the 3D rendering program into a physical item in front of me; one almighty mess of wood shavings and slate; teaching myself slating and copious amounts of hot chocolate made using the ghillie kettle, my vision began to take shape –
“BUGGLINGTON MANOR”
 
First slate going on… oh happy days… it worked first time

That’s the slating done for 2 out of the 8 sections

The unfilled carcass was installed within the grounds of Llanyrafon Manor, it was then time to place materials suitable for bug habitation inside the manor with huge expectation for the new residents to move in.

 
Wow, I love this view

A prospective new residents view

On Sunday 31st March 2013, Llanyrafon Manor staff held an event with an Easter theme mixed with a spot of biodiversity. Besides an egg hunt, there were talks and an unveiling of the much anticipated Bugglington Manor.

To help get Bugglington ready for its new residents to move in, it needed lots of materials to be placed inside to give shelter to our little friends. 

For this to happen we needed some help, and this came in the form of children who very kindly took time out from searching for eggs on the Easter egg hunt to help us place materials inside, whilst learning what types of creatures that are expected to take up residence here. We placed inside: straw; slate; bark; bamboo; pampas; twigs; bricks and cones.
Laid here typing right now, reflecting over the past few weeks gives me opportunity to take stock. This has been an amazing opportunity. The scale of the job teased and stretched me. Starting with interpreting my own design, learning unexplored skills, discovering new depths of personal resourcefulness and finding the resilience needed to complete all the stages. All this has culminated in supplying an article with impact and true purpose, and I have to admit, right now a great sense of pride and achievement is flowing through me.
I am certainly looking forward to the next time my imagination is allowed to flow when the next opportunity is offered. 
For now though, it is time to go back to the beehives…
Welcome to Bugglington Manor


Not forgotten about the birds…

Thinking of the homes that GlastonBees have provided for Honey bees and their happy human keepers, there has been a call from a few local residents to help some other of our wildlife that has not yet been catered for with as much enthusiasm.
Enter a time for the birds that visit our gardens.  Recently GlastonBees was asked to make a bird table.  Again, wishing to make something that is not commonly found, I made an updated version of a bird house that I made for my parents.
A personal residence and a Nursing home are to be the two final destinations for the Bird table / home.
I call this the “Tudor House”…  It’s a two bedroom bird home, with an open plan downstairs living area suitable for little birds to reside in a beautiful setting.  

I’m fortunate to have seen a diverse selection of birds who visit my parents “Tudor House” such as: 
Sparrows; Doves; Wood Pigeons; Jackdaws; Robins; Blue Tits; Starlings; and others
I look forward to hearing from the new owners of these Tudor Houses, when I ask them about the visitors that they now have to their gardens.


Checking on the ladies and Natural Beekeeping…

February 14th has been quite an exciting bee day…

Firstly, we had fine weather for the early part of the day, with the sun shining brightly, much less wind and lack of rain, could only mean one thing, check on the ladies…

So this morning when I ventured up to the workshop, the expectation was high on seeing flying bees.  What I got in actuality was somewhat more.

The ladies were flying, which was a great sight to see and relieved some anxiety.  I thought it best to check on their food stores, so after putting on the beekeeping suit I went to get a closer look. 

First impressions were fantastic, there were dozens of the little darlings flying just outside their hive, hovering around the entrance.  Then I noticed even more good news, they were not just stretching their wings, some were venturing much further afield.  

I started to notice pollen coming in, what a great feeling that is, knowing that they’re helping themselves with any opportunity that the weather gives them.  A light rose colour, a pale yellow and a blend of yellow / mustard coloured pollen was entering the hive stored on the back legs of a few bees.

Then I could see the cleaners were busy at work.  They were bringing out dead bees and dragging them about 1 metre away from the entrance before taking a little break and returning to the hive.  

Such great optimistic, visual signs, from just kneeling down besides them, that a healthy colony is bringing home some food, doing a spot of house cleaning and stretching their wings.

As usual I stayed to watch them for a little while to see if any other colours of pollen would bee brought into the hive.

As for this evening I attending a talk hosted by the Gwent Beekeepers Association on Natural Beekeeping by Dr Nicola Bradbear who is a long standing advocate of beekeeping.  She spoke to inform people about what natural beekeeping is all about.  Lots was talked about, with some questions afterwards.  

A “Warre Hive” otherwise known as “the Peoples Hive” was on display which did get quite a bit of attention from interested people.

It was nice to see some old faces (meaning those people I haven’t seen in a while, not describing the demographic of the group), and the confirmation of the benefits that natural beekeeping could bring to the British bee population.

So all in all, it has been a great day, lets see what tomorrow brings.







The hive is alive… With the sight of flying…

Once I got to the workshop this Wednesday morning, before entering I noticed a honey bee on the floor.   So after a massive grin appeared on my face I headed towards Gwenyn Mel 2 to see what I could see.

What a glorious sight… Dozens of lovely ladies flying around the entrance and heading out into the wilderness of Cwmbran.

I thought that this is an excellent opportunity to check a little further on how the ladies are coping in their home.  And so after heading into the workshop to don my bee suit and grabbing my phone (which takes great photos) I headed back to the ladies to get a closer look…

After 5 minutes of watching their flying habitats I lifted the roof to give a very quick check on how much food they have left. Excellent to see their own food and some of my food which I gave them still there.  I helped them out by removing dead bees from the top and closed the hive up after a few seconds.

My excitement on seeing them meant, that I just HAD to hang around for a little while longer to watch them fly. I have missed seeing them over the winter period, watching them coming into land, the noise they make, even missed them walking over my fingers.

Honey bees bring me great satisfaction and I want to share my enthusiasm with you. One way for me to do this is to take photos so you can also admire them, but I have one problem with this… These photos do not do any justice when compared to getting up close and personal with them around their home.

As wonderful as these photos are… They can not portray the impact they have on my senses such as smell and sound.

So after seeing the ladies doing well today, my thoughts are now aware that it is time, for the temperamental part of year that is… the end of winter into early spring time (quite often the hardest time for our Honey bees).