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Honey bee on an ivy flower in autumn

Ivy Flowers, good for the Bees

Even though October is drawing to a close, on warm days the bees are VERY busy.

If you look closely at the ivy, you can see it covered in insects busy at work on the ivy flowers. Not only honey bees, but wasps, flies and bumble bees. All going about their work gathering or consuming the produce of the ivy flower.

The Ivy flower is quite easily overlooked, but is a valuable source of nectar and pollen for the bees. Especially at this time of year when there is not much more forage around. This is one of the last chances for the bees to gather last minute stores.

A fly on an ivy flower in October
A fly on an ivy flower in October
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Honey Bee on ice plant Sedum spectabile 'Iceberg'

Busy Bee

We are having some warm weather at the moment. The sunny warm days are great for the bees allowing them to get out and about to build up their winter stores. Caught this lady foraging on a flowering ‘Iceberg’ (Sedumspectabile ) plant.

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Marking a Queen Honeybee 2019 is green

Marking the Queen Bee

As the season draws to a close, it gives me a chance to undertake some final checks on the colony and perform some house keeping.

Today was a chance to mark some of this year’s queens. The queen bee is larger than the workers, but is often difficult to find amongst all her daughters. Being able to easily see her speeds up the hive inspection.

Queens are colour coded depending on the year, this helps you remember their age. For 2019 the colour is green.

2019 Marked Queen bee (Green is the colour for 2019) amongst worker bees
2019 Marked Queen bee (Green is the colour for 2019) amongst worker bees
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Honey Bee on New Zealand Flax Flower in the UK

Bees are all over our New Zealand Flax Flowers

This year, in our garden (North Devon, UK), the New Zealand Flax’s have sent up some beautiful long flower spikes with small tubular flowers delicately displaying in reds and oranges.

The anthers protrude from the top of the tubular flower. Here the high protein orange coloured pollen can be collected by the bee.

But where the bees seem to spend mot of their time is climbing right into the flower to collect the nectar.

Tail of a Honey Bee poking out of a New Zealand Flax Flower
Tail of a Honey Bee poking out of a New Zealand Flax Flower
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Wildflower meadow in Barnstaple

This is what I want, I really really want ….

I have a two acre field, I really want to turn into (revert to?) wildflower meadow. How do you do it? Can anyone help?

It seems really complicated and expensive.

Done the research over a few years and got the facts, just spent £40 on seed! (mixture of perennial and annual from Pictorial Meadows #PictorialMeadows) only does 10 square metres. 2 acres is equivalent to 8,000 square metres …… so at a price of £32,000 …. not really achievable????

A lot of money, but it needs to be done right, so hopefully this autumn we will get started. I then just need to work out how to do it affordably over the next 5 years ….. yes a 5 year project ….

#RHSGardensRosemoor have stared a wild flower meadow, and it is looking good. They are just down the road, if they are reading, perhaps someone could help out, after all we are members. I could pay in honey, vegetables or fruit ….. but I suppose that is coals to Newcastle???

Anyone any thoughts on how we can do this in an environmental way, for little cost, to achieve a native meadow.

Cornflower growing in North Devon
Cornflower growing in North Devon
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Recently housed swarm of honey bees

The #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm continues to grow

A very quick inspection the other evening, showed that the swarm collected a month ago has a queen that appears to be laying well.

Since the swarm was collected, they have been creating comb to store honey and pollen in as well as provide the queen a place to lay eggs for the next generation of bees.

I have been regularly checking the new colony to ensure that they are healthy and have no visible signs of disease. There is always the chance, when collecting a swarm of bees, that they bring back a disease to the quarantine apiary such as EFB (European Foul Brood) or AFB (American Foul Brood), both of which are contagious, and notifiable to DEFRA.

The new colony is looking very healthy and the queen seems to be laying healthily producing eggs and brood (bee larvae)

Inside the #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm hive.  Newly capped brood can be clearly seen
Inside the #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm hive. Newly capped brood can be clearly seen
The #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm continue to draw out new comb
The #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm continue to draw out new comb
The #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm are still quite active on a mild summer June evening
The #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm are still quite active on a mild summer June evening
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Honey Bee on at Rose RHS Rosemoor

Bees are enjoying the roses at RHS Rosemoor Rose Festival

The RHS Rosemoor Rose Festival was glorious. The roses were all out in bloom and their sweet scent wafted through the warm summer air.

Even though the blowsy colourful blooms thickly clustered with petals looked magnificent, it wass the simple open single rose flowers that attracted the attention of the bees.

This is always the way, the double blooms may look glorious to us, but simplicity is beauty to the bees.

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Honey Bees feeding on sugar syrup from a top feeder

Feed Me, Feed Me Now!

The third installment of the #BidefordHoneyBeeSwarm.

On day three of collecting the swarm from Bideford, the bees have bee put into a new hive, and are now being fed with sugar syrup. At this point I would typically medicate the bees against the Varoa mite, but haven’t had the chance to do this yet.

In the picture, you can see the bees coming up from the hive below into a feeder.

The feeder is essentially a dish with a lid, that I fill with sugar syrup. The feeder sits on top of the hive in a box that I cover with the roof, so its normally in the dark inside the hive.

The sugar syrup is 1 part sugar to 1 part water and is typically fed to the bees during spring and summer to encourage the queen to lay.

In this instance I have given it to the bees to encourage them to build out comb in the hive, but also at this time of year (May/June) there may not be too much forage (flowers) around for the bees as we are on the cusp of the summer flowers coming out.

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