They’re here! A few days ago our friends installed their bees. They were none too happy (the bees, that is) and J got stung several times. J and S put up the outer sections of the hives first, then returned in the evening with the frames of bees. So we woke up with tens of thousands of extra bees here, and the site of J in his space-age looking bee suit, smoker in hand, checking all was OK. There are now four lovely-looking WBC hives in the orchard. Each hive is on a largeish paving slab, to keep it nice and steady, with the grass strimmed down all around to provide a good space to work in.
It’s a little weird playing host to a colony of rather alien creatures with their own rules and customs – ones that we have yet to learn. On the first morning, the bees spent a while dancing around the hives, apparently learning about their new location. I hope they like it here. We’re not that far from their old home – less than the three miles recommended distance – so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they decide to stay put and don’t try to go back to their old site.
Hopefully they will find enough forage nearby. We have a lot of ‘green desert’ around us – large monoculture fields with just one crop, not much use for bees. But there are also hedgerows, unkempt verges with wildflowers, and villages with flowery gardens. It was interesting looking around at the site here with bees in mind – apparently the main thing of interest to them at the moment is the large clump of ivy hanging from the old apple tree. Ivy is one of the last plants to flower in the autumn, and sure enough, when the sun came out, the weird knobbly flowers were humming with bees. One happy side-effect of the bees’ arrival is that I can justify spending hours in the winter pouring over seed catalogues looking for ideas for bee-friendly flowers and shrubs to grow here. Yay!