This is the 3rd year we have had our own hives and yet again it has not been a straight forward year. The past two years were very difficult generally for beekeepers on account of the weather and sadly our first colony died. However, last year we started two new colonies and since nationally one third of bee colonies did not survive the Winter, we were pleased that both our much cosseted bee colonies came through this time. However, Nature still had some surprises in store for us. After two bad years of weather, suddenly the pendulum swung the other way and the bees were having a bumper time, so much so that some colonies in Wales were swarming in April, two months earlier than normal. Indeed our own bees were also showing signs of swarming and very quickly we had to expand our two hives to six. One Sunday afternoon we had to shut the plant area twice for half an hour as two of the new queens emerged for their mating flights. It was a spectacular affair and a privilege to witness as tens of thousands of bees took to the air to celebrate the occasion.
It was thus a busy Summer for Shaun as he tended to the hives and despite his best efforts, two of the colonies swarmed and were lost to other beekeepers or the Wild. He also took a further beekeeping course and we are pleased to congratulate him on passing his first exam.
Some colonies have proved stronger than others and we had to destroy two particularly aggressive queens who had passed on their temperament to their daughters. The net result is that we now have three thriving colonies and Shaun has deemed it safe to remove honey from two of them. The good news therefore is that we will be selling our own honey this year and will also be including it in various dishes on our menu in the Garden Café. Watch out for further details.