The Bees At Pentre Bach
We’re all aware of how important honeybees are to our ecology and that in recent years numbers of bees world-wide have been dwindling. We decided to do our bit to help increase the honeybee population, and so in early 2014 Wilma became a member of Meirionnydd Beekeeping Association and subsequently undertook an intensive beekeeping course run by the association over the course of three weekends.
Meanwhile we obtained a hive and the various necessary pieces of beekeeping equipment and set about getting ready for our bees. The hive came as flat pack (not from IKEA!) and proved quite a challenge to build (although not too much to a man of Mike’s carpentry abilities!) and then we had to choose an appropriate location for our hive. With the help of a local established beekeeper, we decided to put our hive in the walled garden where the bees would be able to forage an abundance of pollen and nectar from our fruit and vegetable plants and in turn help us by pollinating our plants. The bees would also be a safe distance away from our guests. The hive can be spotted through a gap in the wall, yet is far enough away from the garden and field so as not to be troublesome to any guests relaxing in the garden or playing games in the field
Our colony arrives
At the end of May 2014 our first nucleus arrived and within a few days was transferred into our own brand new hive. The colony should grow to around 50,000 honeybees by the end of each summer although that will decrease to around 20,000 over the winter.
Early in 2015 we added a second hive and carried out the complicated process of creating an artificial swarm to split the existing colony. This worked to a certain extent in that we then had two colonies. The second colony will gradually expand but requires extra feeding from time to time. The older colony is faring better and producing some honey. However the summer of 2015 with the very changeable weather was not great for bees, so stocks have been nothing like as good as previously. In 2016 we were reduced to one colony of bees but they were quite efficient foragers and produced a good amount of honey for our own consumption. In 2017 we had an eventful start to the season and we now have three active colonies.