I have long wanted to go on a bee adventure and spend some time with a beekeeper, looking at and learning about the hives. I am fascinated by bees.
For Mother’s Day, I decided to sponsor a Queen Bee from Hives and Herbals. As part of the sponsorship, we were allowed to name our Queen Bee. As it was Mother’s Day, I decided to call the bee ‘Felicity’, which is my late mother’s name, and of course, my daughter’s as well. It felt like a doubly fitting thing to do.
Alyson from Hives and Herbals has several hives that she looks after and sells fabulous hand cream, lip balm, food wraps and candles from her colonies – all of which are based in Bristol.
Anyhow, when she announced that we could sponsor a hive, I was all over it like a bear in the honeypot.
I was desperate to have a bee adventure of my own!
Alyson introduced us to several of the hives. Firstly, we saw a ‘starter’ hive that she had only just rescued from a tree the previous week.
You can find out about that bee adventure on her blog.
The colony was busy producing wonderful wax for the Queen to eventually go and lay her eggs in, although in this hive she hadn’t got to it yet. In all fairness, they had only been in their new home a week, so it’s not surprising!
Inside the top of the hive, they had a delicious bag of royal icing (yes really!) to have a munch on whilst they were restoring their energy from the move.
Next, we saw the hive that we have sponsored.
After removing the lid, the bees buzzed to and fro exploring what we were doing. They are curious little creatures. I held one of the wooden frames that the bees use to make their wax combs in – it was crawling with bees and was quite amazing. Each little hexagon was identical and so perfect. Each was a stunning creation.
I have never been so close to so many bees before.
We learnt that the Queen lays her eggs in the comb – approximately 2,000 eggs a day – and that she determines whether the egg will be male or female as she lays it.
All the workers in the hive are female, and the only job of the male bees is to find a mate. At the end of the season if they haven’t done their job and are still in the hive (they are meant to fly elsewhere to find a Queen), then they are excommunicated from the colony and sent into the cold to die.
The females won’t keep them over winter as they eat too much food! Poor, useless male bees.
Another fabulous fact is that when the hive splits (it can get too big so cuts in half), the Queen leaves with one half but lays a dozen or so Queen Bee eggs in the hive that is left behind.
When the first new Queen Bee hatches, she makes a noise that the other not-yet-hatched Queen Bee larvae imitate.
The newly hatched Queen Bee then goes and kills all the other Queens, so there is no competition.
It’s like Game Of Thrones. Utterly incredible.
So, as you can see, we had a superb time on our bee adventure, and I am so pleased that Memory Zoo sponsored a hive.
It’s beautiful to know that we’re doing just a little bit to help protect these incredibly valuable little insects.