Today is World Bee Day and the Dockyard apiary is a hive of activity. Dockyard team member, and new volunteer beekeeper, Chloe is enjoying getting up close and personal with the colony and has even met the queen bee.
Set in a quiet and secluded spot, complete with a freshwater pond, the apiary was installed two years as part of a long-term project to support the local ecosystem and improve biodiversity on the heritage site.
The Dockyard team is supported by Medway Beekeepers Association and today Chloe reports on her first month as a beekeeper…
It has always been a dream of mine to keep bees but I have never lived in a suitable location to have any hives. After finding out that the Trust needed another volunteer beekeeper, I jumped at the chance to get involved and am utterly delighted that I did.
Fellow volunteer Vicky and I are very lucky to be learning from and working with the association, who are guiding us to becoming competent beekeepers by ourselves. Vicky has already taken a keepers course and I hope to follow in her footsteps soon.
The hives are now opened on a regular basis, every week or so, depending on the weather. We won’t open the hives if it is too windy or if it is raining as the bees are not keen on getting cold and wet – and who could blame them! Opening the hives allows us to check the bees and ensure they are healthy and have enough food.
We inspect the hives by removing each frame from the brood box, one by one, to see what’s going on. We are checking for things such as food stores, eggs, larvae, queen cells and of course, the queen. Getting up close to the bees whilst doing this is my favourite part of beekeeping. They are such intelligent little creatures and how they work never fails to amaze me. Each has a vital role to play and they know it!
Just last week, whilst inspecting Hive Three, we were lucky enough to find the queen. Vicky marked her thorax with a small dab of highly visible paint so we can spot her next time.
I was amazed to see so many bees doing the ‘waggle dance’, where they move in a figure of eight to tell each other where food can be found.
Going forward, we will try and inspect the bees for the minimal amount of time possible, to stop us disrupting hive activity and ultimately keep the bees healthy and happy.
I look forward to letting you know how I, and the bees, are getting on again soon.