You may have seen the wooden box on legs tucked into the orchard, and wondered what it was. A weather station, maybe? (No.) An illicit cider still? (Definitely not!) A bug house? (We have those elsewhere, good guess, but no.) It is in fact an observation hive for bees. It can be opened to reveal a glass front and back, not so the bees can see out, but so that we can see in. Recently our local expert beekeeper, Dave, noticed that some bees had built a honeycomb inside, and sent some pictures. Dave explained:
‘The pictures show the natural comb the bees have built between the two panes of glass. The bees have built the comb around two dowl rods inside to give it more strength, because if it is very hot weather and there is a lot of honey in the comb it can come detached without an anchoring point. By the time these pictures were taken (9th May), the bees had built so much comb around them that the dowels no longer show. This kind of hive does not allow a bee keeper to take any honey from the bees. Instead, if the colony ever dies out, wooden batons holding the glass in place will need to be removed to allow the hive to be cleared out ready for a fresh swarm to be introduced.’
You can ask to see the hive in action – just drop us an email or a message. It is often open if Dave or another volunteer is working in the orchard so look out for the notices on our board. We hope the bees have a great summer.