I went to check on the bees living in their dilapidated hives at the foot of the South Downs, and they are thriving. I have set up a hive nearby which I baited again with lemongrass oil, but I’m not sure that the bees have swarmed – certainly not recently. The owners take a keen interest in these inherited hives and had not heard any sounds of swarming.
Both were busily bringing in pollen, and continuing with their home improvements. Here’s a little vid of their activity – watch the workers remove a dodgy drone grub about a minute in…
The owners of the property have let all the wild flowers grow up in the lawn and rough areas around the hives and the rest of their land; it’s just a tapestry of speedwell, stitchwort, buttercups, bird’s-foot trefoil, comfrey, and a host of other native flora:
The bees are adept at propolising, as you’d expect from a colony allowed to conduct themselves without intervention. They seem to be relaxed about the huge gap in the top box, and I suppose tree cavities often have large entrances.
I will carry on keeping an eye on these fabulous bees, and hopefully be able to capture a swarm.