The Beginners’ Bee Keeping course in North Wales was the most fascinating course we’ve ever attended. Little did we know that one day we’d have some bees of our own…all 50,000 of them!
We found our bees in the small adds section of a website called preloved.com. You essentially buy a “nucleus”, a polystyrene box starter kit containing 5 hive frames, a queen bee and 10,000 or so drones & workers. It is quite a harrowing experience travelling a hundred miles with the nucleus in the back of your car!
Bees are extraordinary little creatures, here are some interesting facts:
1. A single colony can contain up to 60,000 bees.
2. A single worker bee only produces 0.083 of a teaspoon of honey.
3. A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day and over the course of her lifetime may lay up to 1 million
4. Bees pass on information to each other, e.g. the location of food sources, via dances and pheromones.
5. Drone bees are dealt a low card in life. They die after mating.
6. The queen controls the type of bee to be made. Fertilised eggs become workers and non-fertilised
eggs become drones!
7. Drone bees are slightly larger than worker bees. The worker bees build larger cells for drone larvae.
8. A hive can produce an emergency queen by changing the food source of an existing larvae from
fermented pollen to “Royal Jelly”.
9. Bees swarm to create a new colony elsewhere. Unfortunately the swarm takes away 60% of the
10. Number 9 happened to us. You can control swarming if you look for the signs – we didn’t!
We use our bees to pollinate our orchard and the flowers around us and also to keep the bee population alive. We have planted lots of flowers and bushes to increase forage for them. It is estimated that 1/3 of the global food supply is pollinated by bees.