Welcome to the first Hills Hives blog!
After getting our hives project underway earlier this year, the recent sunny weather provided perfect bee-checking conditions (think sunny, warm, dry, and still) – enabling our Hills Hives group to head down to the apiary to check up on our busy ladies.
The hives continue to be a great asset to their surrounding areas, as they pollinate the local gardens, produce a food source, and contribute to supporting a complex, interconnected ecosystem.
The team didn’t catch either of the Queen bees – Bernadette or Bumblelina, on the latest trip – but we were happy to see evidence of their hard work, with lots of eggs, larvae, and capped brood in the hives.
We checked both hives for American Foulbrood Disease (AFB) and mites, and luckily both appear to be in the clear. But just for safety, we added some preventative mite protection – you can never be too careful when it comes to hive health!
AFB is the most serious honeybee brood disease present in New Zealand. Its control and eventual eradication from the country depends on responsible beekeepers (like us) being able to identify it correctly.
The smaller hive belonging to Bernadette was low on honey stores on our visit, so we’ll be feeding it a sugar syrup for the next few weeks, to get the ladies through until flower nectar really starts flowing.
Despite not seeing Bernadette, we were lucky enough to spot the ‘bee dance’ for the first time! Bees communicate flower location using dances inside the hive; one bee dances, while the other bees watch to learn the directions to a specific flower patch. With this unique communication already in place, we’re confident of a good yield once the flowers really start blooming.
In the larger hive, Bumbelina was also elusive, but fortunately, we got to see some of her little baby bees hatching! The broods hatch (female) worker bees and (male) drone bees and depending on the surface – smooth (worker) or puffy (drone) – you can work out which is which. If you weren’t already aware, unlike the worker bee, drones do not have stingers and gather neither nectar nor pollen. Their primary role is to mate with the Queen.
Although there was more honey in the bigger hive, we’ll continue to top it with sugar syrup too, as there are more mouths to feed there. All honey produced will be gifted to our staff as there’s nothing better than enjoying the fruits of your labour!
We’ll be bringing more updates from Hills Hives as we progress towards Summer and honey season! To stay updated with all of the Hills Hives action, make sure you follow our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/hillshives