I have been waiting for a suitable opportunity to go and check the bees on the Marsh, and the need for this was hastened by my getting a message to say that one of the hives was leaning at rather an angle as the livestock had managed to get in to the apiary…
On arrival it was clear that the straps had saved the Warré but sadly not the top bar.
After the beautiful spring weather we had this weekend, the cold and windy offering today was much more in keeping with what we have come to know and love about Bank Holiday. There were no bees flying and I wasn’t sure if the colony was alive. A quick check in the back window reassured me and we put the hive upright. The bottom box still hadn’t been occupied so we took that off and strapped it up tightly across both ways. I put the entrance block back in and the bees quickly started skirting around the floor to assess the propolis seal requirements. I’ve seen this attention to detail from other managed-feral colonies and it’s amazing to see this natural behaviour of them protecting their home. Propolis is the glue which holds the physical ‘body’ of the colony together and it is incredibly important that bees propolise their home.
The bees were fanning and orienting and although I didn’t take more of a look through the windows, there is now forage available in the blackthorn all around the Marsh. They are very exposed here though; a far cry from their favoured woodland habitat. These bees are certainly tenacious.
The top bar had been dislodged from its stand, and the roof had come off. The number of dead bees didn’t look that significant so I’m not certain about exactly what finished them off.
It has now been made secure, the bees and old comb removed, and the lid and top bars replaced. So, we will see what this year brings with the bees at the Marsh.