Bee spotting on a Bee Safari
I've been teased by my friends and colleagues this week when I informed them that I was going on a Bee Safari yesterday. For many this may conjure up images of beekeepers clad in their beesuits standing in open top Land Rovers using binoculars to spot bees in the Warwickshire countryside. It wasn't quite like that and having been on a Warwick & Leamington Beekeepers' Bee Safari last year, I knew what to expect. Basically you meet about 15 other beekeepers at an apiary site and then you are led through inspections with a qualified national bee inspector, in our case it was Julian Routh. We started off at an apiary site in Combrook - a gorgeous quaint village in Warwickshire - then onto the bees kept at the National Trust property Charlecote Park (top pic) and then back to Combrook to inspect Liz and Stephen Bates' bees.
A day looking at and talking about bees - what could bee better! Below are the pics.
|The only Safari bit we had to do was walking through the long grass to the first apiary site.|
|Our inspector Julian had a great beard - I think you can just about make it out in this pic.|
|Talking through what to look for when inspecting the frames - especially bee diseases like chalk brood and sac brood as well as varroa mite.|
|When we arrived at Charlecote Park they had very kindly supplied us with tea, coffee and cake. Beekeeping can be hungry and thirsty work and it's always good to fortify with cake.|
|Right next to the bee enclosure was a pen of pigs. They were sleeping in this pic but became rather vocal when they woke. So, I guess we did spot other animals on our safari too.|
|We went through 10 hives - 6 of which are run by Charlecote Park beekeepers and 4 by a local beekeeper who keeps hives in their apiary.|
|Close up of one of the hive's entrances|
|This is what happens when bees run out of space - they build wild comb. In this case it was on the other side of the dummy board.|
|If you've ever wondered what a perfect brood pattern looks like - this is it. Brood all in the middle with honey stores on the outside|
|A busy entrance.|
|This is another spacing issue in the hive - if you leave too much space between the frames the bees will build their comb out.|
|One of their hives is a Dartington Hive designed by Robin Dartington. It's the predecessor to my Beehaus, which Dartington helped design too.|
|Liz (in blue on the right) actually got into beekeeping having called out a beekeeper the year before last to remove a colony of bees in their roof. That original 'roof colony' is now kept in one of their hives.|
|Lots of buzzing bees at this apiary site.|
It was a great day! Armed with new knowledge I'm off later to inspect my own colony later but as Julian says, you can never predict bee behaviour so who knows what they've been up to since I united the two colonies last week.