Does the 'cup of sugar' rule still apply?

Bees orientating themselves to new home

Well in this instance, it certainly does! Meet the new neighbours - a colony of bees at the bottom of the garden settling into their new home. All day they've been making maiden flights to learn their new surroundings and sources of food to go and forage. Because they are still planning their flights, it's important to feed the girls and so later tonight I'll be adding a feeder with a supply of sugar syprup (1:1 ratio of white granulated sugar and water) and keeping an eye on it over the coming week.

It's only day one and just watching them this evening is so relaxing. Listening to the buzz and birdsong around seems to cast adrift all the daily worries and leaves me with a huge smile as I watch the colony working together to learn from each other new flight paths. Even at the entrance to the hive there are worker bees fanning their wings vigorously and exposing their Nasonov glands which releases a pheromone to entice foraging bees back to the colony. You can see them in this video clip along with bees returning loaded with pollen in the pollen baskets (technically called the 'corbicula') on their hind legs.

Before I got into beekeeping, pollen came in only one colour - yellow. That's what I always assumed and have since learned that the pollen source comes in a large variety of colours from white through to black. Just today the girls were spotted bringing home:

  • Orange pollen
  • Pale yellow pollen
  • Red pollen
  • Yellow pollen

Orange pollen is dandelion and there's a very good supply of dandelions in the adjacent village green. I got a little excited when I also saw red pollen because I was told by Sylvia who I picked the bees up from that this is from horse chestnut trees at this time of year. So I'm really pleased that the girls seem to have found the large horse chestnut tree standing on the patch of grass in front of the house and possibly all the others that are in full bloom on the village green as well.

Suddenly I've been seeing the world in a different light - noticing all the various trees in bloom from cherry blossom trees, bay trees beginning to flower, rosemary bushes already in bloom, and so much more. May is a wonderful month and everything seems to have suddenly blossomed. With all these sources of food, the girls are getting off to a cracking start as they bed down for the night ready for another busy day tomorrow.

For the time being, they will stay in Sylvia's brood box which is currently sitting in the spot that #Beehive1 will take up residence next week. This just helps the bees settle in and minimises any stress in the colony doing too many things at once. There's no rush - just when the girls are ready.