Next Meeting: 9th November 2017 at 2pm at Kirton Village Hall.
Our speaker next month will be: Brian Cornell who is giving a talk on Thames Lightermen.
Our speakers this month were Chris and Marion Stevens and they gave us a fascinating insight into Bees – the Journey from Flower to Jar. Chris and Marion have been bee keepers for seven years and have 8 hives, some in the garden and some in a paddock. They explained that the hive is made up of 1 Queen, 50,000 female workers and 1,000 male drones. The Queen ‘rules’ the colony and lays the eggs, the females do all the work and the males are only interested in the females and food! The Queen is created by being fed with Royal Jelly and she only flies when she is seeking a mate. She then mates with several drones who then die!! Subsequently the Queen dwells in the ‘brood’ box at the bottom of the hive and lays upwards of 2,000 eggs per day. She is fed by her workers and can live up to 3 or 4 years but in actual fact is usually replaced by a younger model when she is past her ‘sell by’ date.
The workers start as nursemaids, then guards before wearing themselves completely out by foraging for pollen and nectar. It takes 30,000 trips to make a jar of honey and it takes approximately 30 minutes per trip. It is no surprise then that they can only keep this up for 5 to 6 weeks before collapsing in a heap.
When the hive gets a bit crowded the bees decide to swarm in order to find a new home.
A swarm consists of between 10,000 and 20,000 bees and a Queen. Scouts are sent out to find a new home in cracks or crevices – in a tree, in your attic or down your chimney!
If you find a swarm you can ring the Police Helpline 101 and they will arrange for a bee keeper to come and collect them or you can go to the Bee Keeping Association website.
The bees are under threat from pesticides, parasitic mites and loss of habitat. With no fallow fields and no ‘set aside’ there is not always enough for the bees to feed on. This is a particular problem when hedgerows are slashed at the wrong time so that the hedgerows are depleted of Hawthorn, Buckthorn and Wild Plum blossom, as the bees quite often have no other source of food at this time of the year. We were asked to plant snowdrops, aconites and winter flowering shrubs to help combat this problem and help preserve our very industrious bees!