Beekeeping is a truly splendid pastime, and taking on the bees at Hidcote has been one of the highlights of my time here! This is now my second season keeping bees and although I certainly haven’t mastered this delicate art form just yet, both years have been incredibly educational with highs and lows along the way. Similar to gardening it takes time to build up a knowledge base and get a handle on the subject matter, only here you have bees crawling over your head while you’re trying to work and think! I genuinely believe this is something I will do for the rest of my life, not only is it so rewarding to deal with these fascinating insects but it coincides so neatly with the career choice I’ve made.
|An inspection starts by lighting the smoker, which is used to blast smoke into the hive just prior to opening it up! The bees, silly sausages, think a forest fire has erupted and the message goes around to abandon ship! They immediately dash off and have a long drink of honey, filling themselves up ahead of the emergency escape they expect to make. This inadvertently makes them unable to sting, as they’re so full they cannot bend their bodies to direct an attack! And mellow bees are extremely desirable as you are about to start poking about inside their home.|
|Inspecting the frames! Each frame is made up of cells, into which either honey is stored or eggs are laid. Throughout the season you have to keep an eye on this, checking the queen is laying well and enough supplies of honey are being built up.|
|The white capped cells on the right is stored honey, the darker capped cells on the left contain eggs.|