As is the custom at our Apiary, any swarms that we catch are called by the names of the places that we caught them in – but only for the first year. If they get through the winter, then they are given new names – which are all virtues. We started with Faith, Hope and Charity. The only one of the original hives that we started with five years ago is Faith. And she has re-queened at least twice.
So on Sunday, we set off to the Apiary to ensure there was enough food in the hives after all the recent cold weather – and to take away any hives that had not made it through the winter. There were two such hives: Joy and Trust. Joy went queenless in July and I did not re-queen here because we had so many hives by then! Trust was very weak at the end of the year – and I was not surprised to find an empty hive. However, what did surprise me was that Trust had quite bad woodpecker damage around the entrance….which will require a bit of woodwork to mend.
So we now have seven hives! New names are in bold. The old hives are in italics.
Unity – Probably the strongest hive of all. Caught on the day before the wedding of the owners of the land where we caught the swarm!
Kindness – Good swarm caught in a hedge next to the local cricket pitch from a local village starting with the letter “K”.
Melody – Very black bees – possibly from the church belltower in a local town starting with the letter “M”.
Harmony – Imported from Essex two years ago. Joy was her sister, but Joy did not get through the winter. Oh Joy!
Faith – (Good old Faith!) The longest surviving hive of all, having re-queened her with a thoroughbred from the West 4 years ago!)
Grace – also quite buzzy – but not as strong as Liberty.
Liberty – strong but still quite buzzy! Could be an old queen as this was the swarm from the local golf course (starting with the letter “L”) which later threw a cast onto the same bush about a week later! We gave the cast to a beekeeping friend – and it has also over-wintered well.
Starting the year with seven hives is a record and a nice position to be in having gone down to one hive this time two years ago. We have a number of friends who are asking for bees, so I expect that we will be moving a few of them on as the weather gets warmer.