Gloucestershire Heritage Hub bee update
The Heritage Hub community garden now has beehives in the garden for the first time since September! When we lost our colony towards the end of last summer, we decided not to bring any other colonies into the garden over the winter but just start again in the spring.
One of our beekeeping friends, who lives in Tuffley, offered us a colony in the spring if he had been able to make one for us (creating a “split”, which means creating a new queen in a strong colony and allowing her to form her own separate colony) and last year, a friend and garden volunteer mentioned that he had honeybees in his flat roof extension and did I know of anyone who might be able to get them out without killing them. I couldn’t find anyone, so it was decided to leave them in the roof as any other beekeeper would not remove them without killing them because of the complexity of the home.
This spring, because of Covid-19 we decided not to be too upset if the split from our friend didn’t happen, but the roof bees were starting to cause a problem again and since last year I had met a local beekeeper who was up for the challenge. Towards the end of May, I found myself in a bee suit in Hucclecote helping my beekeeper friend Manny and a builder called Steve retrieve the bees from the roof. My job was to collect honeycomb and put it into empty frames for the bees to go on when we took them to their new home. Put simply, Steve would drill out the bricks (the bees had been getting in through air bricks) and Manny would vacuum them up with a special vacuum into a box, then Steve would replace the bricks. This took an entire day and at the end of it, we trudged back to the Heritage Hub with a big box of bees, transferred them to a hive, and left them to it.
A couple of days later it had become clear that some of the bees had decided they preferred their Hucclecote home and were wanting to go back. Bees can return to their original homes up to 3 miles from their new homes, and this wasn’t quite 3 miles, so I then had to take them to another friend’s garden near Tewkesbury where they spent the next two weeks. One week in to the two weeks, our colony from Tuffley was ready and I brought them back to the Hub garden one early Tuesday morning. They were joined a week later by the Hucclecote colony and at the time of writing we now have two beehives! The Tuffley bees are strong and the roof bees are weak, so I may have to combine them into one stronger colony but that’s to be decided later.
Further updates through the year!
Ally McConnell, Archivist and volunteer bee keeper.