Here she is below unpacking the nucleus (a complete set of workers and drones plus queen, with thanks to The Co-Operative’s Plan Bee Campaign) in 2010.
Last year’s cold, wet summer followed by a harsh winter has severely impacted both honey production and the UK’s bee population, and unfortunately our hive was one of many that didn’t make it through the winter.
Queen bees lay eggs that will hatch as drones if unfertilised, but their eggs need to be fertilised to create worker bees. They can’t fly properly in rain and so need still, warm summer days to occur at the right time in order to mate, and if anything interferes with this the whole hive is in jeopardy. Chantal suspects that our queen wasn’t able to mate, leaving the hive without enough essential workers to make it through the winter.
Chantal left all the honey in the hive to try to give the bees enough food to last until winter, but it’s now been removed and put into jars with the help of Bee Collective, and we’re preparing to sell the honey to raise enough money to buy a new nucleus of bees. We have our names on a list to get bees from Yorkshire, and are hoping to have two or three in total by the end of summer.
We’ll keep you posted on progress, but leave us a comment if you have any honey or bee-keeping questions.