Summer visitors to the apiary

We had some fascinating visitors to the apiary on Saturday. A dad and his little boy, who we lent a mini-sized bee suit. The little boy had sandals on, so he borrowed his dad’s socks. It was sweet to see an enormous grin come over his face as he watched the bees. Putting on bee suits

We also had a couple from Bulgaria, who had driven two hours across London to visit us in the wilds of zone 4. Alexa and her boyfriend are working in London for a few months and wanted to visit British beekeepers – because they are missing their bees.

And no wonder. When I asked Alexa how many hives they have, she replied “seventy”. Yep, 70! I thought perhaps they might be professional or semi-professional beekeepers, but no… in Bulgaria they both work full-time then travel 200 miles each weekend to check up on their bees. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what beekeeping does to you. You will go absolutely barmy through love for your bees.

Emma and I inspected and found our bees doing well. The new queen which emerged from a cell after we split Pepper’s hive has begun laying. Pepper and Melissa are continuing to lay beautifully. During the seven years I’ve had Melissa’s bees, the colony has tended towards superseding rather than swarming, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they try to supersede her late in the season this year. I just hope that goes off without a hitch as we’ve been through a lot with those bees and it would be sad to lose their line of gentle, hardy, non-swarmy ladies.

There were sad times at the allotment last weekend, as Cassiopeia turned out to be a drone-layer. She had to be dispatched and the colony combined with Andromeda’s bees, using the ever reliable newspaper method. This has turned it into a monster of a hive – three brood boxes, one super (Cassiopeia was on two brood boxes as I hadn’t quite finished the Bailey comb change). My challenge for the coming weekend is to mark queen Andromeda and reduce the colony down into two brood boxes.

A few photos of flowers, a bee, a horse and a pudding to finish the post.

Bumblebee on foxglove

The bumblebee above I found in the New Forest on Sunday. I found several horses too.
New Forest horse

These little white flowers look a bit like stitchwort – are they?

White flowers

The Barbican has some spectacular alliums this year. The bees adore them.

Alliums at Southbank centre


Bees eat flowers, I eat waffles.

Fruits of the forest waffle

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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29 Responses to Summer visitors to the apiary

  1. honeymedic says:

    I believe your flowers are white Campion, How had Alexa and boyfriend heard about you?
    It seems that urban beekeeping is moving into a high rise tower block phase!


    • Emily Scott says:

      Ah white campion, thanks! Alexa posted on the London Beekeepers Facebook page looking for beekeepers she could visit and I replied. We have had quite a few visitors from around the world at the Ealing apiary, it’s always fun to hear about different ways of looking after bees.


  2. I was talking to a lady on Saturday who had to sell her apiary because of bad health. However, she visited her bees when she was on holiday to see them in their new home! I think the white flower might be white campion (Silene latifolia).


  3. disperser says:

    200 miles each weekend? . . . That is some serious dedication.


  4. Lindylou says:

    is what we call it if it is what I think. It means White cuckoo flower, latin is: Silene pratensis or Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘Alba’ / I’m very curious whether it is stitchwort, cuckoo flower or white campion or are they the same? Good to hear that your Melissa bees are taking such good care of themselves. They must be in a relaxing and healthy environment. Have you planted lots of Melissa (lemon balm) around their hive?


    • Emily Scott says:

      White cuckoo flower is a pretty name! We have not planted any lemon balm around, but Emma chose the name Melissa after the essential oil, because its calming and anti-anxiety properties seemed fitting for a queen of supremely calm bees.


  5. ladybetwixtandbetween says:

    Great post! It’s great to see kids out learning about the role bees play in our environment. It’s wonderful that you’ve your apiary open for visits like that.


  6. Erik says:

    So sorry Cassiopeia turned into a drone layer. She had a good run. Love the alliums – we have a bunch on our property but the bees just haven’t gone for them. Perhaps not enough density.


    • Emily Scott says:

      Poor Cassiopeia – perhaps the bad weather this May meant she didn’t get mated properly, or perhaps she had some other problem. I have seen bees on alliums when only one or two flowers are about – wonder if you need to try a different species.


  7. honeymedic says:

    \i am intrigued by Cassiopeia’s fate, did you actually find her laying drones and despatch her?
    It is more usual in my experience to discover the raised domes of drones laid in brood cells which are generally laid by laying workers after becoming queenless..


    • Emily Scott says:

      She was found and despatched, yes. I didn’t actually catch her laying eggs, but there were about four frames containing only capped drone brood. In between were eggs – one egg per cell, not multiple as you usually get with laying workers. I agree that it’s not common with a new queen, but it does happen. She had mated as her abdomen was enlarged, so perhaps something had gone wrong internally.


  8. I also thought White Campion.
    Did the waffle taste good, it looks amazing??!!


  9. beatingthebounds says:

    “Flowers, a bee, a horse and a pudding” – a recipe for happiness? That waffle looks spectacular. It’s a very, very long time since I’ve been to the New Forest.


    • Emily Scott says:

      Quite possibly all you need for happiness! Or at least a very good start. It was my first time to the New Forest. I was expecting it to be more wild looking, the paths were very wide and the trees quite spaced out.


  10. In Toronto I visited a managed bee garden. They served us Buzztinis made from their honey. It was a rather sweet drink too. I was telling them about your bee meets and how you serve cakes made with the honey. Wow on the Bulgarians. 200 miles and 70 hives. That is dedication.


  11. Hi – great photos but somehow you’ve made the southbank centre look remarkably like the Barbican.


  12. Alex Jones says:

    Makes me hungry just looking at that photo of the waffle.


  13. I felt sorry the little boy got bitten by our ankle biter bees – or perhaps they were Jonsey’s 😉 Other than that he seemed to enjoy the visit! I was so impressed by the 70-odd hives of the Bulgarian beekeepers – definitely barmy and amazing!


  14. P&B says:

    Love that purple Alliums.


  15. theresagreen says:

    Sad about Cassiopeia, all that work and effort she must have put in producing drones too. It’s clearly tough being Bee Royalty!


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