Wivey Grows is officially launched!

Early on in our Team Bees journey with James Fidell

25 June 23 - by James Fidell

This blog from James shares how Team Bees set up our new apiary. We now have four healthy, happy colonies and they seem to be thriving!


As we get close to finishing the fencing around the new Team Bees apiary site at Pitt Farm, it's time to deploy a "bait hive" to see if we can attract a swarm that might be looking for a new home.

Honey bees "negotiate" over the desirability of the different sources of nectar they might find. They bring nectar back to the hive from different locations, feed it to each other and describe the distance and direction to the flowers that the nectar came from through the medium of dance. They'll then decide between themselves which is the best source to work.

Oilseed Rape (OSR) is a particular favourite and they will choose that in preference to many other plants also in flower at the same time (dandelions for example), so the amount of OSR in flower around the Wivey area at the moment means that if the weather is suitable for flying they'll be working flat out bringing as much as possible back to the colony to feed younger bees and larvae and to store for winter.

This abundance of food can mean that the number of bees in the colony increases very rapidly whilst the space available for the queen to lay eggs is greatly reduced. Bees have evolved to take advantage of such a situation and will often attempt to create additional colonies whilst food is so plentiful. The workers create larger cells on the comb for raising new queens and feed the larvae in them with plenty of royal jelly until they're ready to pupate. Meanwhile scout bees start looking for possible new sites to start a new colony.

As soon as the cells for these new queens are capped with wax and pollen whilst the larva inside pupates, the existing queen will leave her home behind taking with her a significant proportion of the existing bees, who stuff themselves with food before they leave so they have resources to live on and to use to make wax to build comb once they find a new place to live. Often they'll initially settle quite close to their original home, hanging from the branch of a tree or a fencepost (or sometimes on the end of someone's car) whilst the scouts again negotiate over which is the best of the places they've found. Once they're agreed, the swarm once again takes to the air and is led by the scouts to their new home. Sometimes several queens might leave from the original colony over a period of a few days, leaving one behind to take over from her mother.

Our bait hive will hopefully provide the scout bees with a potential new home that they can't resist and given a little luck we may find over the next few weeks that it has new occupants.