On Sunday I went to a DARG meeting at North Devon’s apiary in the middle of nowhere, down a 2 mile lane with vegetation brushing both wing mirrors. My sat nav got me to the post code just as I saw a sign saying ‘Bees’. There are a couple of farm cottages opposite which a few cars were parked. The apiary is on the site of another cottage, now demolished, where bees were kept over a century ago.
There weren’t too many there, mostly DARG members but some people from the local BKA. As usual we socialised and nattered and ate our lunch until after 1. There was some splendid Victoria sponge provided!
The main subject of the day’s discussion was the Asian hornet. There’s been no news yet of sightings on the mainland this year. It wasn’t known whether those on the Channel Islands have been successfully eradicated. We were concerned that all is quiet on the Asian front with not enough people monitoring and it will be brought up at the next meeting of the SW Counties Joint Consultative Committee. I have suggested to our BKA that we obtain posters etc so that we can display and hand them out at the Dorchester Show in a few weeks’ time.
After a ramble around the apiary and more Victoria sponge, we departed. I found a message from Sarah, my apprentice at Bee Happy Plants, on my mobile telephone asking how she should feed hungry bees in one of her TBHs. I messaged her back to say I would divert via her on my way home and told her my sat nav’s ETA (so she could put the kettle on).
My route took me through the Blackdown hills. I must go back and explore around there before too long as the countryside is lovely.
I got to Sarah’s at tea time and told her the easy way to feed the bees. Fill a plastic container with fir cones to give the bees a foothold and avoid drowning. Add dilute sugar syrup and also a few drops of blue food dye so that she can see where it ends up and doesn’t mistake partially recycled sugar for honey. She isn’t sure why the bees are so hungry: it might be the drought reducing nectar flow (none of the colonies in this area seem to be getting good crops so far this year) or they may have been robbed as the plug was missing at the rear of the hive.
Sarah is having trouble with her web site and her usual customers have been unable to get in touch so, if you want to buy some manuka bushes or other bee-friendly plants or seeds, it would be best to contact her by email at: Sarah@beehappyplants.co.uk . I shall suggest to her that she adds a list of her plants as a comment to this post. Just think how much better your honey would be if you had manuka bushes in your garden! I harvested some honey from Sarah’s last year and, while it was of a similar colour to what you see on the shelves, it didn’t taste of Savlon as the NZ honey does!