In his first despatch, Brian the Beekeeper brings us up to speed with the new Torridon Beehive, a project created to help preserve British bees while also providing delicious honey for The Torridon’s guests.
The Torridon Beehive is gaining strength daily. We have forty to fifty thousand bees and the queen bee is laying eggs as fast she can, up to 2000 a day.
The foragers (all females) only live for six weeks and they work themselves to death with hundreds of daily flights to collect nectar.
They are still working nearby oil seed rape fields, making and storing honey in the first of their honey boxes.
The weather varied from warm sunshine to little more than 9C, too cold for our bees to work.
At last inspection, the Torridon hive was thriving and of course bees being bees they are now trying to swarm. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s just bees doing what comes naturally.
This is where the beekeeper steps in. In order to control their swarming, I will be manipulating the hive in such a way as they think they have already swarmed. Sounds complicated? Well it is.
I will remove the queen from her brood (baby bees) and place her in an empty hive. I will then put that hive on the original site.
I will also put the honey box on top of the chamber with the queen. And on top of that again goes all her brood sitting on a queen excluder. This stops any drones (male bees) from getting stuck in the honey box.
The queen now thinks she has swarmed because she finds herself in an empty brood chamber devoid of any brood. This is just as it would have been if she had swarmed.
She has no idea that her brood is on top of the hive as she cannot get through the excluder.
With any luck the hive will settle, the queen will soon start laying again at full rate and the hive will continue to build up their honey stores.
Meantime the brood on top hatches out, joins the workforce down below and hey presto, one very strong hive.
I will write again in a few weeks time to let you know how the season is progressing for the Torridon hive.