I am really pleased to say that yesterday the basecamp beehive was stocked with its own small colony of Honey Bee’s. You might have to stick with me a bit here, I am a bit bee obsessed.

The hive was constructed last year by a group of volunteers, and has been waiting for its new occupants for a few month’s now. The other night I went to fetch a nucleus (small) colony from a local bee breeder.

The colony comes in a small travelling box and consists of a Queen, several thousand workers and the brood nest, which is on 5 frames. The  first job when you get them back is to put them on the stand their hive will live on. I also like to put their roof on top, it helps them to orientate when they are moved into the proper hive, even if it does look a bit odd perched on the travelling box.

Then the small blue plug is pulled out of the entrance so the bee’s can fly and get used to their new home. They know they have moved, and as they come out of the box they perform intricate figure of eight flight patterns whilst imprinitng a new internal map.

Once they have had a day or two to settle in the colony is transfered to their own proper hive.

The hive is put on the stand and the frames are moved one by one into it. The brood nest in the hive has room for eleven frames, so they have plenty of room to expand over the summer. We are using a WBC hive, which some might say is a bit old fashioned these days, but I rather like it, it’s well made and somehow the shape of a WBC will be forever imprinted as the shape of a “proper” hive. The idea of keeping bee’s at Swan Barn Farm is firstly to hopefully give an insight into what I think is a really important countryside skill to our volunteers, but also to provide efficient polintation for our orchards and wildflowers. I hope passers by will enjoy seeing the hive as well, maybe not to close though!

As Spike and I were transfering the frames we were also checking the colony over, making sure they were healthy and in good condition. I was really pleased to see how good natured the colony was, they are very freindly bee’s.

I also wanted to see our Queen bee, there is only one in each colony, and spotting her amongst the thousands of others is a skill that takes a while to learn. There are a couple of tricks you can use to make finding her easier though, such as putting a dab of coloured paint on her back. See if you can spot her.

Honey bee’s have been having a really tough time over the last few years, many colonies have been dying out, pretty much all of the wild colonies I used to know of have dissapeered. They are vitally important polinators, and without them the countryside we know, and the food we eat would be under great threat. I think it is very important that we do our best to look after them . I am really pleased the basecamp beehive is properly stocked now, for me its a big step in the work we are doing here at Swan Barn Farm.