Honey bees buzzing after Louise Mensch visit

With the wet and miserable weather this year, we’ve struggled to get up to the apiary for our regular inspections. Inside the hive the bees must keep a constant temperature of 35C, so if we go up and open the hives on a cold day you risk chilling the brood (lava). Up until today, the bees have been working really hard to get the hive back up to temperature, which they’ll do by rapidly beating their wing muscles. As you can imagine this is tiring business which requires plenty of fuel in the way of honey. But because the foraging bees aren’t collecting as much nectar, they’ve had to rely on the stores already in the hive which have been dwindling fast…

Fortunately the depressing start to the bee keeping season didn’t deter local MP Louise Mensch from donning one of our newly purchased (wildlife friendly) bee suits as she took time from her hectic schedule to visit the Stanwick Lakes Hive of Activity Project. Louise commended the project managed by environmental charity Rockingham Forest Trust and described it as “a very good use of Lottery money”. Mick McGrath, head honcho at the Big Lottery Fund in the East Midlands was equally positive and hopes that other organisations will be inspired to follow Stanwick Lakes’ lead and apply for an Awards for All grant to kick start their own community bee keeping project.

Children from the WE Watch wildlife group enjoyed a rare glimpse of sunshine as they make their way home from the Stanwick Lakes a piary

Earlier in the spring we were blessed with a couple of weeks of reasonably nice weather, allowing the hives to expand in size. Then the cold front came in and the bees weren’t able to fly, forcing the colony to rely on stores left over from winter. If we hadn’t been careful the bees would have been at great risk of starvation. Fingers crossed, summer has finally arrived but what this also marks is the beginning of swarming season! When the weather picks up like it has done today, the bees may choose to swarm and leave their hive at the first opportunity – so if you come across a swarm in your neighbourhood we’d be more than happy to hear from you.

All in all we’re pleased to say that most of the hives are still OK for food stores and those that were close to empty have now been fed with sugary fondant. This month has been the first time that our volunteer bee keepers have got close to an active hive and I’m glad to say they all took it in their stride with no stings. We’ve also been able to complete another Taster Session, with the aim of recruiting more bee keepers so we can expand the number of hives. All we really need now is for this warmer weather to stay put.

Don’t forget to scribble on your calendar our BUSY BUZZY BEES family fun day which will be taking place on Thursday June 7th at Stanwick Lakes (11am to 4pm). There will be modest charges for some craft activities and standard car parking fees apply. No booking required!

– Mark

MP Louise Mensch visits the Stanwick Lakes apiary along with Mick McGrath, Head of East Midlands for the Big Lottery Fund and Alyson Alfree – Director of Rockingham Forest Trust.