What’s Buzzing in Compton Verney?

As part of our ‘Love Parks’ Weekend, you can finally join Rod our Volunteer Beekeeper and learn about the world of bees. You and your family can don the suits and masks, see the worker bees, the guard bees, and maybe the Queen! Still unsure? Read our interview with Rod. 

How long have the hives been in Compton Verney?

We started with two hives in 2013 and increased to four over an eighteen month period. We purchased the first hive which was populated with a nucleus (five frames with a queen and workers). The second hive was populated with a swarm that I had caught.

beekeeping 2013
Setting up the hives in 2013.

How much honey can you get from the hives?

There is a huge variation hive to hive, even between hives in the same apiary and the foraging area. There can be in excess of 100lbs off a single hive over the season, but typically around 60lbs. We sell the honey made from the hives at the Compton Verney shop, and there’s only 1lb in a jar!

honey super
‘These are supers, don’t ask me why they are called that. But they collect the honey in the hives.’

Are the species in Compton Verney different to elsewhere?

There are specific strains of honey bee but it is virtually impossible to maintain a 100% strain. A virgin queen leaves the hive on a mating flight and visits what is called a drone congregation area. Nobody knows quite how it happens but drones from various hives in the area congregate and the virgin queen finds them. She mates with typically five of them and that’s enough to keep her laying eggs for up to five years. In the height of the season, she will lay up to 2000 eggs each day. So the bees at CV are effectively the same as elsewhere.

What do you enjoy most about beekeeping?

The pure fascination of watching the bees and understanding how they work and organise themselves as a colony. And of course, there is great satisfaction in getting lots of honey as it usually means you have cared well for them.

bees drinking honey
‘Honey is full of protein for the bees, these bees are drinking some of the honey which spilt out.’

Have you ever been stung?

When I started beekeeping at age 12, we did not have protective clothing as we do now.  These days I guess I get stung say…four times a year (that’s dependant on how calm the bees are). It’s said you’re not a beekeeper until you’ve been stung!

If you’d like to do some beekeeping with Rod, click here.

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