A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…

Our first hive (May 11)

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The weather is good and the bees are busy – so Neil ‘The Bee Man’ is here to split one of his hives and get us started on one of our own.    Catching a swarm is one way to start a new colony (see Busy Bees – Mar 1) and ‘splitting a hive’ is apparently another.

So Ed and Neil transplant the queen with a load of her followers into our new hive…while I keep my distance.   The rest of the bees are left behind.  These will now create a new queen by fattening up a female larva with loads of royal jelly.   I’m learning the ABC of bee-keeping through Ed – it’s totally captivating and slowly drawing me in.  Although my bee-suit’s still on order…

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Up in the walled garden we also have a swarm-catching plan.   It’s less whimsical than a scented ‘bee-catcher’ in the yew tree, as described by Mr C – apparently the yew tree is too close to the house.   Instead it’s a box with some old honeycomb inside perched on top of the wall – but the fact that ‘scout’ bees might locate it and then guide a swarm there to start a new colony is still a pretty enchanting idea.

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So we have our first hive in the paddock and a hive-in-waiting in the walled garden.  If all goes to plan we should have our first honey by the end of the summer.

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