Finishing work on a Friday normally signals the start of the weekend but this Friday was different - I had a colony of bees to go and collect. Not for myself but for The Donkey Sanctuary where I work which I mentioned in What's all the buzz about? back in January this year. I already have bees at the bottom of the garden and now I have a great opportunity to resurrect a pair of beehives at The Donkey Sanctuary after the bee colony collapsed a couple of years ago.
Dusk arrived and myself and my partner Dave drove over to the other side of Exeter to go and collect a nuc of bees as it's known in the beekeeping fraternity. This is colony of bees on about 4-5 frames of foundation that is heavy with brood (new bees) with their new queen. All was quiet when we picked them up and drove about 30 minutes to the wild flower meadow where the new apiary site is at The Donkey Sanctuary. It was dark but all that needed to be done was to set down the nuc box in the place where they would take up residence and go back in the morning to transfer them into their own brood chamber and pop the rest of the hive back together again.
All went really well and I must say that the colony was lovely - so calm and a real pleasure to handle.
Over the coming weeks I'll be taking a quick look inside to see how they are doing and hopefully will see the colony expanding in numbers. In the meantime, they will be feeding on sugar syrup (white granulated sugar mixed in water) until the time is right to add a super above the brood chamber for them to start drawing out comb and adding their own stores of honey.
If you're in the Devon area, why not drop into The Donkey Sanctuary and see the donkeys and new residents living alongside them - the honey bees!