Cliffe Castle Bee Blog #17 2023
The blog is a bit delayed this week because we've been getting for an event at Town Hall Square on Saturday 29 July, with a Nature and Environment theme. Hope you can drop by to see us, we'll be there from 11am to 3pm!
Steve and I checked the Observation Hive colony on Monday. We found eggs, larvae, and sealed brood across 5 frames, again, and spotted our fine red queen patrolling her nest. The fact that the colony is growing is clear from the number of bees now on the outer frames.
This Tuesday was the first of the school summer holidays and our Beekeeper by the Hive sessions. There were lots of visitors, with plenty of questions, so I was kept on my toes! As always, people enquire about the queen and hope to see her. On Tuesday, sadly she was well hidden on the inner frames but I was able to share her with her public with a photo on my phone!
The weather has been very unseasonal and there have been many days when rain has stopped the older worker bees from getting out into the park to collect nectar and pollen (forage). As the forecast continues unsettled, I think I will call into the museum on Monday and put a syrup feeder above the colony, to make sure that they have enough food supplies to keep them going until the next warm, dry, day.
At this time of year, the Himalayan Balsam is coming into flower and the first signs of Ling Heather are showing on the surrounding moors. We still have some Rosebay Willow Herb in flower. All of these are favoured food sources for our Aire Valley honey bees. If you keep a careful eye on the bees coming back into the hive, through the perspex tunnel, you may be able to tell which food sources they have been visiting by looking at the colour of the pollen they are carrying.
Bees return with a very dark blue pollen from willow herb whilst the pollen loads of bees that have been working ling heather are brown. Those that have visited Himalayan Balsam also usually have a dusting of white pollen in a stripe down their backs, just where they can’t reach to brush it off and gather it into their pollen baskets on their back legs! Sadly the Himalyan Balsam, which is an invasive plant, is becoming more relied on by honey bees for pollen at this time of the year, due to the decline in our native plants.
Watch carefully at your next visit and see if you spot any of these tell-tale signs. Other visitors may then consider you are something of an expert!