Cliffe Castle Bee Blog #3 2023
Today, 17 April, we have returned a colony of honeybees to Cliffe Castle Museum.
Preparations began yesterday, at our Association apiary site, when the frame containing the queen needed to be found and safely put into the 'double nucleus' box in which they travel.
Then I needed to decide which five of the eight frames of brood in their winter hive would fit best into the smaller, observation hive. I chose a couple of frames containing food with some space on the comb for the Q to lay, plus a clean frame of wax foundation for the bees to draw out into comb to give her even more space in the museum hive.
Just after 6am this morning, I set off to collect the bees and met with Steve and Lee at Cliffe Castle just before 7am. Sally, a member of the museum staff team, kindly came to work early to let us in. Then the fun of moving the bees from one container to the o
ther began! Fortunately, these particular bees are so good tempered and gentle, even after a bumpy car ride to Cliffe Castle!
The Cliffe Castle observation hive is a special type of beehive designed to give museum visitors the chance to see bees at work and rest in their home space. Normally, honeybees in the nest live in the dark and have to use their senses of taste, touch and smell to find out what's
happening around them. They are very sensitive to vibration, which is another important way they communicate in the dark. This is why it is important not to tap on the glass sides of the museum hive.
This hive contains just nine frames of comb, three on each level. Their winter home holds 11 frames, so they are “down-sizing” at the museum! Steve, Mike, Lee and I will need to manage the colony carefully over the next few weeks, to make sure that they don’t get too crowded and decide to swarm.