Here we are at the start of another beekeeping season, and already it's the Easter Holidays. The last two years have flown by with Covid lockdowns and life generally getting in the way of this blog, but I'm pleased to report that we and our bees are alive and well!
We started this season with nine colonies. We've donated one to Andy, a new beekeeper in our village whom we are mentoring. It's not a simple job to move a colony when their new home is less than a kilometre away - honeybees can fly up to 5km in search of forage and find their way home. If we moved them in one go, we'd have a large number of bees back in our garden the next day wondering where their hive has gone! So they went off to another beekeeper a few km away and spent a fortnight in his garden before we returned them to Andy's new site.
Three of our colonies have gone on their Easter holidays, though actually they will be hard at work. We were offered the chance to put them next to a field of oilseed rape at Falkenham Marshes. OSR, as we call it for short, is a wonderful crop for the bees, producing huge amounts of pollen and delicious honey. Our local farmer doesn't grow it round here so we leaped at the opportunity! With a bit of luck and kind weather they will produce a surplus of honey in the next few weeks. We will have to look sharp though - OSR honey crystallises very quickly in the comb and then we can't extract it.
We are waiting for the phone to start ringing with swarm callouts. Beekeepers elsewhere in Suffolk have already reported swarms so we can expect to be kept busy. Swarm collection is great fun, meeting the public and helping to spread the word about bees. You could say it gives us a real buzz!