Beekeeper diary: Spring time and floods

Where I live and work in Northamptonshire has been hit by high rainfall and flooding.  I checked the weather forecast yesterday and, to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to the flood warning signs as usually they do not effect this area.  How wrong I was!  On the way to my work I pass by the village where our first hive is located and the flood plains on the road were scary. Then I arrived at work to find all access roads blocked.  Add to this I didn’t have any wellies or network coverage, the only way in to work was through the burst stream, jeans rolled up and barefoot!

Beekeeper diarys; beekeeping; uk beekeepingHere you can see the farm’s tractor blocking the road and how deep the flood waters got. On my way back home I wanted to check on ours and our mentor’s hives.  However, the road into the village was completely under water for about a third of a mile.  The pictures below show scenes of the road and an adjacent field completely submerged in water.  I was forced to turn back and naturally worried about the hives which are located on the other side of the village.  I called Jeff our mentor to alert him to the floods in the village.  Bee hives are vulnerable to all kinds threats.   Varroa mite is a parasite that causes huge devastation to hives as the parasite feeds from the larvae and impacts the bees growth.  Habitat loss is another major impact on bee populations and farmers in the UK introduce wildflower margins to help provide nectar rich habitat in addition to the crops they grown. Jeff has lost hives to rats and floods in the past too.

Beekeeper diarys; beekeeping; uk beekeeping Beekeeper diaries; beekeeping; uk beekeeping

Starvation is something that beekeepers work to protect hives in the crucial Spring time as the days become longer and warmer and the winter bees emerge. Bees slow down for winter, they don’t hibernate but cluster into a rugby shaped ball to conserve heat.  It’s all about surviving the winter so the Queen bee can lead her colony for another season. The weather has been fairly mild this winter so the honeybees will venture out on warmer days.  We left enough honey in the hives to last the winter.  Spring is the time to check the hives have enough honey stores to keep them going at this crucial time as they become more active.

After turning back and navigating my way back home, we decided to venture out today to check on the bees.  We went another route into the village and the farm where the hives are located were unaffected thankfully.  The hives were showing signs of activity and it was a huge relief and pleasure to see that our first queen bee and colony is showing the signs of having survived the winter and all the challenges this world throws at them.

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