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Beekeeping at Princesshay

Beekeeping is something I never thought I would experience when I started working at Vision ICT but due to the support of my very kind Directors, I have been volunteering at Princesshay for the past few weeks and I am amazed at what I’ve seen.

We are currently preparing the hives for winter; reducing entrances and getting ready to extract all that delicious honey. Recently, the hives have had to be treated against parasites. The treatment was so volatile it left one hive queen-less and the other was superseded (the bees started to attack their own queen, believing she was dying, so they could replace her with a younger queen. Sounds like a Game of Thrones episode, I know). We merged the queen-less hive with a weak hive so together they now make one strong hive.

Today, we took a new queen made in a breeding box and marked her. I have never before seen a queen bee but she was quite magnificent and a lot larger than the other bees. We then looked inside the superseded hive which was now queen-less and found the combs they were breeding onto. I had to protect the queen bee in her cage as the other bees would have tried to kill her, believing she was an imposter. We placed her in a sort of cage that went over the comb and had a small chamber of fondant blocking the entrance to her. The idea is that by the time the bees have eaten through the fondant, they will recognise the smell of the queen and accept her as theirs.

It was truly incredible to see the baby bees hatching from their comb (not a sight for anyone with Tryopophobia) and spotting all the vibrant colours of pollen being brought into the hive.

Overall it is an amazing experience and one I would definitely recommend when the season starts up again. I will be helping to extract the honey from the hives next Thursday at 10am by Chando’s Deli which is where you can buy some of the honey made by our very own Princesshay bees! A huge thank you to my directors for this wonderful experience and to Jason and the other volunteers at Princesshay for explaining to me all the complexities and Jargon involved with beekeeping. I look forward to helping our Social Responsibilibees more next year.

(P.S. Sorry if I got any of the terms or explanations wrong, I am still new to the world of beekeeping. Feel free to correct me in the comments Apiarists!)

~Mel Hingston