Sunday, 22 July 2012

The bees are back in town!

The observation beehive in the corner of the Walled Garden
The beekeepers of the Newcastle Beekeepers Association brought a colony of honey bees back to our observation hive this weekend.  The bees have been overwintering in another hive at Gibside's Cut Thorn Farm.  Usually they would have been back in the observation hive much earlier in the summer, but because of the unseasonable weather, it was safer to leave them at the farm.  The beekeepers were waiting until the weather was fine for a few days running, so that the bees had time to orientate themselves in our Walled Garden.
Open the door of the hive and watch the bees at work
There are more conventional hives in the corner of the garden, behind the pond, but the observation hive has doors to open on each side, so you can watch the bees working inside the hive through a perspex window. 

Next time you're at Gibside have a look in the hive and see if you can spot the queen bee.

Up close with honey bees
There is a chimney up the side of the hive which has two pipes running through it.   At the back of the hive, at about two metres high, the pipes emerge and this is how the bees get in and out of the hive.  It is designed so that the bees go in and out above human head height, so they don't come into contact with people. 
The entry and exit holes for the hive
Once they come out of the pipe, they can make their way to the nearest flowers in the garden.  The herbaceous border which runs along the wall from the greenhouses was planted with bees and butterflies in mind, and it contains lots of nectar-rich flowers.

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