"I think its a magical garden, I love it" Alice, aged 9
Here is a peek into Bridgets Diary, she has been working hard with Darren to introduce honey bees to the shelterbelt of the garden....
Wherever I go I look out for bees - honey bees in particular. I look to see on which plants they are feeding and how common they are. Back in 2014 on my visit to Trebah Gardens there were plenty of bumble bees but I didnt see any honey bees. That felt sad in such a beautiful garden. I started to wonder about the possibility of placing one of my own hives of bees there.
Early this year I was very excited to meet Darren Dickey the head gardener to talk about the idea. I was so pleased that he had already investigated the Natural Beekeeping website http://www.biobees.com and was very enthusiastic. The location he had identified out of the way of the public seemed fine. Darren said he needed to obtain approval from the management and then we could go ahead.
Darren cleared the site and laid slabs ready for us to bring the hive which I had made from scrap wood. I sealed the outside with a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax.
When we went to transfer the bees, our worst fears were confirmed; there was no queen, no brood and very few bees. They had built a very small amount of comb. I wonder what had happened? Did the queen and bees decide to leave and find a new home? We just dont know. The only thing to do is try again!
We had another bait hive set up, and on the 22nd June a swarm moved in. What a relief! One week later we brought it to Trebah. You can see we have put the box on top of the hive so that the bees can get used to the surroundings before being transferred.
In early July we transferred the combs and bees.
Next was a worrying sight:
The comb at 8 days old. The bee grubs were just being sealed in their cells with the biscuit coloured wax cappings. The central area should look evenly covered but we could see what is called a pepper pot brood pattern. It is caused by the worker bees removing sick grubs from their cells. I was worried that it may be due to a notifiable bee disease. I contacted the bee inspector and we agreed that we would check the colony again in a couple of weeks.
We checked the hive again and found chalk brood larvae on the floor of the hive. The combs had healthy looking brood and no signs of the worrying diseases. Chalk brood is not good, but a colony can recover from it and go on to thrive.
September we removed the bottom board and used a torch and mirror to look up
inside through the floor mesh. We could
the colony was still small. I did not
want to disturb this vulnerable colony by examining the hive from the inside at
this stage. I thought I might check for
any varroa mites at the same time. I put
a white laminated card, greased with vegetable oil, below the mesh on top of
the bottom board. After 5 days we
collected the card and only found one varroa that had dropped through the
mesh. This is very low, which is
The colony has remained busy but still small. We hope it will survive the winter. We may decide to give them some feed later on in the winter or early spring if their stores are looking low. We will let you know how they get on.