Paul and I visited the apiary site on Langney Marsh to see how the bees in the Warre were getting on. We had left them with a queenless but well-provisioned hive sited near them, and a block across the entrance to reduce the amount of policing required as the colony is still very small and could easily succumb to wasps. We also wanted to check the windbreaks to see how they had fared after some stormy conditions.
We were very pleased to see, on looking through the inspection windows, that the bees had increased in number and the queenless National had been completely emptied – we will take this back and remove the beeswax so it can be rendered down before the wax moths get to it. There were numerous wasps but the small entrance of the Warre was preventing any from getting in to the bees and there were 4-6 workers fanning pheromone and seeing off any intruders.
Although the number and size of the combs hadn’t increased much, there were more bees and most of the returning foragers were loaded with pollen of various hues – in particular a luminous pale yellow and deep orange. The bees had consumed all the honeycomb we had put in the top box so we decided to leave it in there for them to reuse:
Forage plants seem quite limited on the Marsh itself but there are a good range of native trees on the perimeter edge which will provide pollen and nectar in the spring and summer. The thistle and bramble flowers have largely gone over and apart from some elecampane there was not much to be seen. The bees must be working the flowers in the gardens of the surrounding town as they were heading over there rather than against the prevailing wind towards the sea.
There are quite a few small native trees in the Apiary enclosure and we also saw two of these fabulous wasp spiders:
We are hoping to organise a Bioblitz with Sussex Wildlife Trust for the Marsh once term starts and the children can be involved.