The bees are coming! I’ve been mulling about keeping bees here for a while, and had decided I wanted to learn more first before diving in. So I was planning on reading some books and going to our local bee-keeping group, then maybe thinking about getting a hive sometime next year or even the year after. But something very exciting has happened. Some friends are moving house, and need somewhere to set up a new home for their bee hives (known as an ‘out apiary’.) The plan is, they will move their bees here and pop by as they need to take care of them – and I can watch, help out, and generally try to learn as much as I can from them. So we get the fun and usefulness of bees on the site, without the scary responsibility of keeping them alive and well (and not swarming!) by ourselves.
Our friends came to have a look around tonight, and they found what looks to be a good spot for the bees, in a corner of the orchard. It has trees on three sides, which will encourage the bees to fly up (and not over the path). But the trees are not so close that the hives would get dripped on, which bees apparently do not like. It seems it really is worth getting the site right first time – as moving a hive is not easy. I’ve learned this evening that hives can be moved less than three feet, or more than three miles – anything in between, and the bees will just keep trying to find their way back to their old home. If you site the hive and then change your mind, you would have to move it a few feet at a time to its new spot – not ideal.
Bees also need water, and food. There is a pond near the proposed spot for the hives, so hopefully the bees will not decide to use the kids’ paddling pool as their water source. And we have a fair amount of bee-friendly plants about the place, including late flowering ivy and early flowering willow (plus apple blossom in the spring) – although, with a three-mile territory, the bees will be foraging far beyond us.
So fingers crossed, we will soon be home to several hives. I can’t quite believe it. Isn’t it great when something just works out?