The joys of bees – just watching ….

Well from my earlier blogs you have probably guessed that I am quite keen on the bees, but it isn’t all about checking the hives, collecting swarms, adding honey supers and hoping for some honey during, or at the end of, the beekeeping year but also very much about standing still and observing the bees and their behaviour, both in and out of the hive.

The hive inspections allow you some insight into ‘colony life’ with the bees living in a super society that has developed over millions of years with just one ruler, the queen, who controls the hive with her pheromone, many thousands of female workers and a couple of  hundred  drones (males) that spend their time lazing about in the hive being fed and groomed (the literal translation of drone being ‘idle’ … sounds like a good life except they are driven from the hive to their deaths at the end of each season).

One of the things that I guess I had never really appreciated about a bee colony before I started to keep them was the noise that they make, its’ neither loud nor disruptive but just a gentle background murmer that changes as they use the vibration of their wings to communicate and spread a message across the hive. There is a change in pitch when you smoke the hive entrance or remove a frame or lift a super, really it’s very pleasant and you try to imagine what they are saying to each other …

A further joy from observing the bees comes from watching them  arriving back at the hive with the combs on their legs full of brightly coloured pollen – it leaves you wondering how long they have been out for, how far they have travelled and how many different  flowers they have visited on that trip.

A wander around the garden is useful to see what flowers the bees are feeding on, and obviously its good to try and grow a number of bee friendly plants to attract them into your garden. This is of increased importance in modern urban gardens as many rural areas have turned to monoculture, removing the traditional hedgerows and the associated seasonal wild flowers and have an increased level of pesticide, inscticide and fungicide use on the crop.

Simple and colourful plants such as lavenders and sunflowers brighten up your garden and provide a real feast for the bees – here are a few shots taken in my small front garden this evening …


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