We are hoping to get more bees into the Marlborough environment. We still get calls from people who haven't seen bees in their garden, who have fruit trees in blossom but no bees - and we're here to help.
Spring has sprung and the weather's a bit mad, I hope you fared ok in the storms recently. We're making our way round you all at the moment, have put the varroa treatment in and we're adding boxes to give the bees more room and to help prevent swarming. Your hive should become more colourful as the season progresses!
With the mild winter and spring, more brood was reared early, which is great but also meant early varroa, which we dealt with in late winter/early spring.
There has been a bit of publicity recently about this, not all correct. Swarming usually happens in spring and is a natural behaviour of bees – it's their normal method of spreading or growth, although we bee-keepers try to control or prevent it. If you do see a swarm in your garden, don't worry, the bees are very passive in this condition and are quite harmless, despite sounding and looking very scarey! They won't sting – usually even when aggressed, so are very vulnerable. This isn't really what we mean when we say we want to get more bees into the environment, so please call us - not the pest control or MDC! Let us know when they've forrmed a ball or cluster and we'll come and catch them and either rehome them, or possibly replace them into your hive if that's where the swarm came from - and if there's no queen present. By checking inside the hive for the presence of swarm cells, we can tell if it has or hasn't swarmed. It's probably from your hive and they've run out of space, so we need to add a new box to give them something to do and extra room to develop. Sadly, these days varroa mites soon kills them off if they're left out in 'the wild', or sometimes people do, who are perhaps less keen on bees – which is understandable if the bees have invaded their shed or house eaves! We and several bee-keepers we know (so we don't feel so bad ) experienced early swarms this year with the warmer spring - and a few extras recently for good measure!
Sometimes the bees will replace their old queen if she's no longer functioning well, and will develop a new queen cell to hatch and take over after they quietly kill their old girl This is called supercedure and differs from swarming - there is no swarm, it's all done quietly inside the hive. This can occur in spring, summer or autumn.
Hopefully the recent awful winds haven't set things back too badly for your fruiting.. a bad bit of timing on Mother Nature's behalf.. one hive just missed being crushed under a big fallen gum tree in Grovetown! However, we hope your garden is flourishing, the citrus, roses and camelia have been great so far. Great to see the eucalypts still flowering – they're a fab source of pollen and nectar for bees. Native plants, newly forming fruit and berries are just beginning to come in for summer. So nice on our travels, to see all sorts of garden flowers out there too – the bees are loving it, you'll see them busily active after being cooped up during bad weather!
There's been good press recently about bees in the urban areas, so lets hope we can all populate the town again with bees, for a healthy, natural environment. We also hope you saw the Sun's article about Grovetown school – such a lovely thing to happen, with a $500 donation - they aim to buy some little suits, to get up close and watch the bees. Nice to know that good things like that still happen, ay. We are especially pleased, as they are our first school to have bees. We are so impressed at the quality of questions from those kids, lots of serious thought and interest! Long may it last, we can only hope that bees are still in their future
As usual, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please contact us - your feedback is important to us.
Happy gardening, roll on summer!
Catherine & Matthew.