Beekeeping Training Commences
SPECL were excited to begin onsite training with Urban and Community Beekeeping to become first-class keepers for our new beehives. Team members from the Landscaping Team volunteered to take on the training and to provide support and ongoing management of Stockley Park’s hives. The team adhered to current government recommendations of social distancing whilst still being able to examine the hives safely. Our team members learned the different sections of the hive, what to look for within each of the sections, and most importantly, be able to recognise the Queen Bee, ensuring she is safely within the hive and healthily laying eggs to make new workers.
Having different sections of the hive allocated to specific parts of the bee’s life cycle has allowed humans to harvest honey from the bees without taking too much of the winter honey reserves. The diagram above shows the complexity in layers of a typical beehive.
Firstly, the team were shown how to use the hive tool to carefully remove the bottom board. Any parasites can be seen and inspected on here. It is at this point when pollen, bee droppings and hopefully not too many, dead bees can be seen.
The brood chamber is where the Queen bee stays and produces eggs. The worker bees can move into the Honey Super, but the Queen is prevented by the Queen Excluder. This stops the Queen from being able to lay eggs everywhere throughout the hive and keeps the newly hatched bees safe during any honey harvesting.
Bees communicate with each other using complex physical and chemical signals called pheromones. One of the worker bee scouts in the image below has come back to the hive and is “dancing” a message to her fellow workers about the location of pollen sources.
Bees construct new comb for their young and this also helps strengthen parts of the hive so they stick together and become rigid. The larger and thickly capped cells shown below are young drones or male bees. Drones serve minimal purpose within the hive but are extremely important in taking flight from the hive and meeting other Queen bees from different hives to pass on genetic diversity. Inside the hive they can be a bit of a nuisance to the female workers as they tend to need more food and take up more space! There is a physical difference between the male drone bee and female workers; the male is larger with less banded colouration on his abdomen, as shown in the second image below.