Swarming Bees in Spring.
This week we’ve had some real excitement at the cottage. The bee hive that’s been here since last summer has swarmed. Wilf noticed a cloud of bees moving so we phoned our bee keeping expert, Martin Collins of Manordeilo, who’s the owner of the hive and he confirmed it was the right time of year for it.
I tracked the bee cloud into the adjoining field keeping watch from a safe distance through binoculars, although the noise was a bit of a giveaway.
When Martin, accompanied by Aura (his wife) arrived he declared it an enormous swarm. Ok, quite a large swarm really, but I’ve become quite attached to (my) the bees and feel like boasting on their behalf
After examining the resting swarm which had settled around a hedge on the side of the field Martin suited up for a closer look taking an empty hive with him. Setting the hive on level ground he decided he would shake the bees gently into it but soon discovered they were all over the place. He needed to identify where the queen was and somehow coax her indoors.
The centre of the cloud had managed to work itself around some low grass so he placed a bucket above them and the bees obligingly crawled up inside. Martin gently tipped the bees on to a flat piece of wood in front of the hive entrance and almost immediately they started to crawl inside. Queeny must have decided to try out her new home as bees started making their way into the hive to join her.
Some hours later Martin recovered the very full hive to a new home in the garden and now we are a 2 hive family. Martin however was so pleased with their progress that he has brought up a third hive.
It was a real treat to watch something so amazing and Martin was very patient fielding Auras & my useful/useless suggestions. That’s multiple choices for Martin to cross out later when he reads this.
Some of the wonderful honey Martin collects we use to make Carmarthenshire Honey and Butter Flapjacks. So far it has been from other hives in the area but we are very hopeful of being rewarded with some of our own this year.
A few bee facts:
Most of the bees are girls.
When they swarm they fill their bellies with honey to sustain them until they find a new home.
The swarm is normally about a third of the bees and the old queen who is forced to leave knowing a new queen will take her place.
Bees fly anything up to 3 miles away from home.
It takes between 45,000 to70,000 bee journeys to make one pound of honey.
Life of the female worker bee once it starts to gather nectar is about 6 weeks
And now for the Yummy honey flapjack recipe……
Melt 150grams of butter very gently in a pan with 75 grams of any brown sugar and 75ml of your favourite runny honey. Make sure they are thoroughly melted together giving it a good stir.
Pour this over 250 grams of porridge oats. You can if you like also add 75 grams of dried fruit such as sultanas or cranberries, or 75 grams of choc chips. Give it all a really good stir
You will need a 20cm square baking tin with a loose bottom, lined with baking paper.
Spread out your sticky mixture, pressing it down to fill the corners ensuring it has a flat top.
Bake for about 20 minutes at 160 degrees centigrade in fan oven, 180 electric. Gas mark 4.
Allow to cool slightly and then divide into 8 portions with a sharp knife while still in the tin. Allow to cool completely and then break into pieces.
Stores well for up to a week wrapped in foil or plastic.