A long delayed visit to the bees

I have been missing my bees. It is tricky visiting them as so far Tommy has refused to drink his milk from a bottle, meaning that I’m the only person who can feed him. It is easily a two hour round trip to the apiary by public transport and he usually feeds every 1-2 hours in the day. So you can see the difficulty. However on Saturday Drew drove us down and entertained him for a while, so that I could concentrate on a little beekeeping.

I was enchanted to find new comfy picnic tables and a much improved fence. Tea and cake at the apiary will taste even better now.

Apiary benches

Emma and I have sold off a lot of equipment, Tom built us a lovely new equipment stand and Emma has done some tidying, so our once towering equipment empire is now much more manageable.

Equipment

After several days of a freakishly warm September, in contrast Saturday was overcast and chilly. So I didn’t inspect but did some tidying – removed the empty Apiguard trays and ekes, took out the varroa monitoring boards which were taped up for the Apiguard treatments and topped up the syrup feeders.

Pepper and Melissa hives

Melissa’s colony is smaller than we would like, so I added a couple of dummy boards to help them keep warm. We may need to put them in a nuc over winter.

Melissa's hive

It felt a bit painful visiting the bees, a reminder that I have been neglecting some parts of my life. But it was also nice to lose myself in the actions of caring for them. Lift the hive roof off, lay it down on the ground, gently lift off the feeder and prise off the crown board. Physical work is satisfying.

I spend a lot of time walking around to keep Tom entertained. In one of my local parks these pretty pink and white autumn crocuses cyclamen (thanks Lucy Garden for correcting me in the comments!)  are flowering. I noticed a little brown carder bee visiting them.

Autumn crocuses

Ivy flowers are out now too – an important late source of forage for many pollinators. There’s even a bee which specialises in visiting them, the Ivy bee, Colletes hederae. It forages almost exclusively on ivy’s delicate green and yellow flowers, flying only from September to mid-November. The Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society (BWARS) has a Colletes hederae mapping project, so keep an eye out for these bees if you live in southern England or Wales. They were first recorded as new to Britain in 2001 when Ian Cross discovered specimens at Langton Matravers in Dorset.

Hoverfly on ivy

Hoverfly on ivy

A short visit but I hope to go again soon.

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper living in Ealing, west London. I have been keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary since 2008 and created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully - future successes. Busy taking the British Beekeeping Association module exams too!
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20 Responses to A long delayed visit to the bees

  1. Lucy Garden says:

    The pink and while flowers are cyclamen, by the way. The seeds are spread by ants.

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  2. clare1023 says:

    Hi Emily

    glad to see all is well with you and that you approve of our new picnic tables and chairs ( much to John C’s disapproval !! )

    best wishes

    Clare x

    ________________________________

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  3. theresagreen says:

    Hi Emily, it must have been lovely to see everyone had smartened the place up for your visit. Sadly, babyhood doesn’t last long and by next spring when the bees get going again little Tommy will probably be mobile and into everything. Do they make baby-sized bee-suits? The info regarding the ‘new-to-us’ Ivy bee was really interesting- I’ll be keeping an eye out for that one, although it may not have reached this far north yet.

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  4. Simon says:

    Nice visit, I connected with the obvious passion you have for your bees.

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  5. I really enjoy your posts and tracking your progress, I also find that when the world gets to be a bit much that if I keep my hands busy that life seems more manageable.

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  6. Wendy says:

    Thanks for the reminder about the ivy bee – I’ll look out for it now. It does feel like the end of a beekeeping season – just the last feeding to do and then close them up for the winter.

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  7. I’m glad you managed a family visit to the bees. Tommy is displaying bee behaviour already, knowing what is good for him :). Amelia

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  8. hencorner says:

    Tom is obviously doing really well, especially with the lovely new equipment stand that he made you! My goodness, wait until he’s in a bee suit and you’ll be out of a job!
    *cheeky, I know*

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  9. Glad you got to see your bees again. Lots of ivy bees about down here in Devon just now.

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  10. The cyclamen are beautiful growing like that. They look so natural and free. Here, we grow them indoors on pots. I can understand with a new baby your lack of time. You want to do everything and time and responsibility limits that. It was nice you got a picnic table and things were tidy. Two hours is long travel time. I hope you get to still tend your bees. I have enjoyed learning about bee care.

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