HEDON is home to lots of fascinating businesses run by entrepreneurs who are passionate and enthusiastic about their endeavours. One of these is BeeLoved run by Kim d’Andilly and Chris Rees.
Kim and Chris are two bee-keepers with a love of honey bees. With 10 hives they harvest their own honey and make their own bee-related products which they sell. But they do much more than this – they provide a really useful source of local information on everything to do with bees and bee-keeping.
For example, can you tell the difference between a honey bee, a bumble bee, and a wasp?
BeeLoved: There are a lot of differences. Honey bees live in a large colony and make honey. They are much thinner than bumble bees. Bumblebees often live in smaller nests and are round and fuzzy. Bumble bees can sting multiple times. Wasps are yellow and black striped and will continue to give multiple stings, too. Bees and wasps will not sting you unless they are aggravated or feel threatened.
Honey bees are small and are coloured from beige to a darker brown with dark brown stripes. They only sting once and then die within 20 minutes of the sting.
Amongst the business services on offer from BeeLoved are bee-keeping classes, talks to local groups, and a swarm collection and removal service. At HedFest in the summer, BeeLoved hopes to bring an Observational Hive (safely behind glass) to showcase how bees live.
A new feature being developed on the BeeLoved website is the BeeLoved Blog. Kim says this will include her own personal pictures of her hive and bees. Hedon Blog is delighted to feature the latest article by Kim destined for the BeeLoved Blog.
Getting ready for Spring Harvest
March is the most difficult month for honey bees. Why? Because the warmer weather can trigger the colony to increase its size, the queen will restart, or increase her laying and the bees will go in search of pollen and nectar to feed the young. The honey bees begin to use up their winter stores of honey to keep them going. They need this food to help give them the energy they need to forage for pollen and nectar. There are times when the Honey bees have used up all their stores and it is time for the beekeeper to feed them as the colony begins to grow. The British weather hasn’t helped the honey bee, usually Spring is the start of blooms and crops and sadly, the weather is not as warm as it has been in the past and we are prone more to wet weather in Spring. This is when the danger sets in for the honey bees to be in danger of starvation.
Honey bees look for pollen, protein and fat for the baby bees, they also collect nectar which is converted into honey.
Moving into April, forsythia, ceanothus and lilac are good sources of pollen. The warmer weather triggers the Queen to increase egg laying; during winter there are about 10,000 honey bees in a hive, in the peak of summer it can raise to 50,000 – 65,000. The Queen needs to build up the colony to make the most of the summers food supply, at her peak she can lay 2,000 eggs a day.
What does the Beekeeper need to do in Spring?
If there is a danger of starvation, the beekeeper will feed the bees. This involves placing some bakers fondant on the top of the frames, occasionally the honey stored overwinter can crystallise and become too difficult to eat or an alternative is sugar syrup.
Beekeepers ‘Spring Clean’ their hives; cleaning out old wax, propolis and debris that has accumulated over winter, checking the hive for food, space for the Queen to lay eggs, pests and diseases and the condition of the combs and hive box. The brood box may be replaced with a clean box, the old one being scraped and flamed to kill off any bugs. The floor is generally replaced with an open mesh base which increases air flow in the hive.
The bees are now set up for the warm summer months and the frantic foraging for nectar to produce delicious golden honey. Honey bees love oil seed rape and by April the crop begins to grow and the Honey bees bring the nectar back to the hive. Beekeepers put ‘Supers’ onto the hive, that is an additional smaller box on the top to allow the Honey bees to have extra space to make the honey. It is the ‘Super’ box that the beekeeper takes off to harvest the honey.