An introduction to the honey bees at Cathie’s Gardening School, Secretts Garden Centre, Milford.
This month I thought I would introduce you to my bees. I have two hives at Secretts which have come from my colony at home. Bees have been having such a hard time recently and they are also very misunderstood.
No Bees = No Food = No Life on Earth
You may have wondered why there are so few apples and other fruit this year? It rained all spring and most of the summer so the bees were unable to come out and pollinate the crops. The Kent cider orchards are 70% down on last year! Bees cannot fly when the temperatures are cold and when the weather is very wet. Flowers do not produce nectar at all until the sun comes out and the weather warms up and if there is no nectar there is no honey. We have all had a little fright this year as to what would happen if bees died out completely, so would we!
Positive things we can do
Unfortunately we can’t change the weather!
1. You could learn a little about the importance of keeping bees and perhaps keep a hive at home, school, work or on your allotment?
2. Provide somewhere sheltered for them so that if weather does take a turn for the worst they are protected.
3. Ensure that you educate yourself about bee friendly plants and try to plant a few? I wrote an article for Round and About this Summer about the subject.
4. Find out where your local beekeepers are and give them as much support as possible.
5. Never use non-organic chemicals there are always alternatives. If you have to use them for urgent reasons ensure the instructions are followed carefully or you obtain professional advice.
It is quite alarming to see a large number of bees but please remember they are at their most docile when in a swarm. They have eaten all the honey in the hive and are physically incapable of stinging, something few non-beekeepers realise. A bee will only sting when it feels threatened and once it stings it dies. In a swarm the worker bees are surrounding the queen and protecting her until the scouts find a new home. If you see a swarm call a swarm catcher and they will collect them safely and remove them. It is nothing to worry about. As a beekeeper we need to check the hive regularly during spring and summer to check for queen cells and to prevent it happening. We were all caught out this year as the weather was awful and I had many swarms during May much to the concern of my neighbours! Luckily I have been able to educate them about my bees and dispel any concerns.
Christmas Fair at Secretts 16th – 18th November
It’s that time of year again and I would welcome anyone interested in gardening or beekeeping to come and visit my stall. I have a little precious honey and other bee related gifts including chutneys and jams made from produce at the gardening school with a lot of help from my bees!
Courses and Advice
Next year I will be running taster sessions and workshops on beekeeping as well all aspects of gardening. I would be happy to talk to you or keep you informed via email.
If you want to learn more there are regular workshops and taster sessions at the Gardening School available for everyone!