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News from the Hives - by Mrs Missen

Did you know Mrs Missen, Year 5's teacher, keeps her own bees and makes amazing honey which has won awards!! She is going to be giving us regular updates with 'News from the Hives'.


News from the Hives - January 2024

News from the Hives

The bees seize every slight rise in the temperature to leave the hive for a flight. Bees do not hibernate. The bees cluster together inside the hive with their queen as the temperature falls over winter. They eat their stored honey and wait for spring. This photo was taken on the 22nd of January and the bees were out taking short flights in the sunshine.

The metal strip over the hive doorway is a 'mouse guard'. It stops hungry mice from moving into the beehive for winter. Mice in a hive are a disaster for the bees as they eat the honey stores and cause the bees to starve. The mice cannot fit through the holes in the metal strip but the bees can.

If you see a honeybee in the next few weeks then wish her well as she was raised in autumn and must live long enough to survive the winter. She must forage for nectar and pollen on the early flowering plants to feed to the baby bees. She is already old and has a lot of work to do.

If you find a tired honeybee you can feed her sugar mixed with a little water for energy. Avoid feeding her honey as honey blends from different places can make bees ill.


Mrs Missen


News from the Hives - May 2024

News from the Hives 

The changing weather has given the bees plenty of opportunities and challenges since January. The lovely spring enabled the bees to get a month ahead in their honey gathering but then came the cold wet weather. Stuck in their hives, the bees ate their stores of honey. The National Bee Unit sent out alerts to all UK beekeepers to warn of the risk of bee starvation. I began feeding sugar syrup to those hives which had very little honey stores left. Sugar syrup is fed using special bee feeders that stop the bees falling into the syrup and drowning. 

Then the weather warmed up and the bees decided to make swarm preparations. 

A hive has one queen (the source of all the eggs), several thousand worker bees (all female but not able to lay eggs because the queen’s pheromones suppress them), and a few hundred males (called drones). The worker bees decide when the hive will swarm. Swarming is the natural way that bees increase the number of colonies. First they slim down the queen so that she will easily be able to fly. Then they choose a few eggs and build a larger wax cell around each of the young bee larvae. They feed these chosen ones on royal jelly throughout their larvae stage. The royal jelly causes these larvae to develop into queens rather than worker bees. 

Once the bees have capped the queen cells then all the foraging bees gorge themselves on honey and they will leave the hive with the original queen. Scout bees will have found a potential new home for the swarm and lead the swarm there. Leaving behind a sad beekeeper, who has lost half of their bees, and often resulting in a sad homeowner, who discovers bees have moved into their chimney! 

A beekeeper must take action to stop swarming by splitting the hives so the bees think they have swarmed. I split the hives but missed some queen cells in one hive. The photos show the resulting swarm that tried to leave but I captured the queen and put her into a little cage in a new hive and the swarm went in to join her there. 



If you look carefully you can see three closed queen cells on the other photo. They look like unshelled peanuts and are about 3cm long. Using a scalpel, I cut two of these queen cells out carefully and put them into hives that did not have queens. The remaining queen cell will hatch out in the original hive that the swarm just left. These queens will hatch soon and will go on to build up their new hives safely in the apiary. 


Mrs Missen