Fringe Box



Beekeeper’s Notes: They’re All At It Again

Published on: 1 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 30 Mar, 2023

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

It’s that time of year again. Birds and the bees are gearing up for the annual mating heave to keep their species going, same as last year and next year and the year after.

It’s a great uplifting, hopeful season. There is no time for doubt if you are a bird or a bee. You just have to get on with it and build that nest or, for bees, that wax comb for the queen to lay in.

Busy hive entrance with plenty of pollen going in, a good sign all is well.

We see birds with twigs in their beaks, some popping in and out of nest boxes or even spaces behind gutters.

For our bees, there is no sex involved. Well, there is but only in the first few weeks of the queen’s life when she goes on her mating flights. The lucky, or is it unlucky males, die if they are successful with their guts pulled out on copulating.

And that’s it sex-wise. The queen then lays to the direction of her workers and, if all is going to plan, she should be building up the egg laying with great gusto now.

Bee with full pollen sacks on her legs.

The outward signs are lots of activity at the hive entrance with pollen going in to feed the eggs and larvae.

And wonderfully, that is what we are seeing in three of our four hives at home. Fingers crossed, all is well in all four but we will see later this month when we open up for the first time this year.

Adulterated honey is in the news again. Ten honey samples from the UK all failed tests and 46% of EU honeys showed “at least one marker of extraneous sugar sources was detected”.

The government says: “We work closely with enforcement authorities to ensure honey sold in the UK is not subject to adulteration”. It clearly is not ensuring that.

The British Retail Consortium, said: “Our members work with suppliers to ensure the authenticity of their honey, conducting regular checks to ensure all honey they sell is as described.” Again, they clearly do not ensure anything of the sort.

The long and the short is that if you buy cheap honey, it is likely to have added sugar syrups, or worse, added to it. If you are happy with that, good.

If not, buy honey from a local beekeeper.

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