I have been a bit worried about my bees. Who spread the myth that beekeeping was a relaxing hobby? I lie in bed worried about mine. The Summer is drawing to a close and my bees are in a race against time to forage for and lay down sufficient stores to see them through the coming winter. At the same time new bees are being born capable of living for 6 months or more to overwinter in the hive (the Summer bees only live for 4 to 6 weeks as they work themselves to death foraging). These new bees must therefore in prime condition. I have been concerned that my bees have not yet started to build up the necessary stores. I have tried to help them along by feeding them sugar syrup but they scoff the lot within 24 hours and the cupboards are still bare.
To increase my worries, my hives are subject to constant attack by wasps. The wasps (being carnivorous) are not only raiding the hives for the honey but robbing the hive of larvae to feed their young and decapitating my bees in mid air for food too. I have set up wasp traps near the hive and captured over 30 wasps and killed dozens more but still they are finding their way into the hives. I therefore decided it was time to call in a more experienced beekeeper to check my hives (thanks Arthur). In fact there was less to worry about than I thought. The queens are still laying eggs, there is plenty of fresh larvae and I watched a few new bees hatching. Whilst the bees in one of the hives have still to set about building their stores, the other colony has taken the hint and both hives were active and healthy. Moreover, in the stronger colony there was masses of honey ready to be eaten (but I have left it for the bees).
Following my recent experience with angry bees I did use smoke on this occasion and I was pleasantly surprised by how calm they were. I was further surprised to see a bee carrying two sacs of dark green pollen and noted that a few cells had been filled with stores of this pollen. My colleague had never seen dark green pollen before either so I checked it with Hilary. After some research on the internet she thinks that the pollen is from hemp! Could it be that the reason my bees are so calm is that they are spaced out with a combination of smoke and hemp? More interestingly might somebody round here be growing marijuana? Let’s hope it’s only wasps raiding my hives in future and not the local constabulary!