Sunday, 26 November 2017

An Invitation

Sleaford District Beekeepers have very kindly extended an invitation to Grantham Members to attend a talk that they are hosting, details are below;

Lincolnshire Beekeeping Association- Sleaford District

Our next evening meeting will be on the 28th of November, starting at 7.30pm our guest speaker is to be Sean Sparling the agronomist who many of you will know from the Lincolnshire Show. He will be talking to us about the crops that farmers grow and the treatments they use.
Please note the venue for this will be the meeting room at Caythorpe Village hall.
Hopefully teas/coffees and biscuits will be available. Volunteers required please.
All welcome and free to attend.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

How To Be Bee-Friendly In Your Landscape Design

Bees are vital our local ecosystems. They pollinate the plants and are an important part of the food chain. But, many people take drastic measures to discourage bees and other pollinators from frequenting their flora, which is potentially harmful for the very lawns they wish to protect.
Here, we offer advice on which plants to avoid and which to consider when you want to attract beautiful buzzing bees.

Broadleaf evergreen shrubs

There are a number of low-lying broadleaf evergreen shrubs that won’t attract bees or their more aggressive cousins, wasps. Many are shade tolerant so these types of greenery make a great addition to your landscape but must be balanced with flowering shrubs, such as blueberry bushes, in order to offer a hospitable foraging zone for bees, butterflies, and other flying pollinators.

Evergreens are plants that, as their name suggests, remain green year-round. These trees and shrubs are not pollinated by bees but by the wind. They are common in virtually all regions and make excellent hedgers if you want a more private backyard. PennLive reports that while dense evergreens don’t provide food for bees, they do offer shelter, especially when paired with tall trees and ornamental grasses.

Flowering plants

Bees need flowering blooms to collect nectar and pollen for their hive and to pollinate other plants. There are a few varieties that, despite their beauty and inviting fragrance, aren’t particularly bee-friendly. In a 2007 article, LiveScience reported that bees tend to favor violet and blue hues. Irises and other tall, easily accessible flowers may be most attractive, especially in the spring. Red flowers are not as interesting for most bees, since their vision doesn’t pick up red as we do. Instead of the bright and brilliant color we see when we look at a bed full of red flowers, bees simply see a monotone sea of grey.

Flowers with long-throated blooms, like the foxglove, are also not especially conducive to an active bee population. A fall favorite in most of the country, marigolds are also considered a no-fly zone for bees. Marigolds have a very low pollen count and, due to their double corolla design, and are not attractive to bees and wasps. For more information on flowering plants to avoid when planning a bee-attracting garden, check out this list provided by Go Garden Guides. 

Accent plants and herbs

While we need the bees in our yards, it’s not a bad idea to discourage them from frequenting areas where people gather. Decks, patios, and porches can be designed as off-limits areas by including a few strong smelling herbs and accent plants that don’t act as an open invitation for bees and other perceived pests. Debug Pest Control recommends planters filled with spearmint and thyme. These herbs are pleasingly fragrant to humans but not pollinators. In larger areas, eucalyptus trees and bushes can work as a deterrent.

Living in harmony

It isn’t difficult to live side-by-side with bees. These beneficial flyers are usually non-aggressive and will take the path of least resistance while working the yard. Teach children, who are prone to bee stings in the summer, to stay away from densely flowered areas and to watch out for places bees like to hide, such as brush piles and dead trees. Before beginning any yard work, take a quick walk around your property to identify any areas where bees might be nesting or actively foraging. Don’t wear brightly-colored clothing outdoors, always wear protective footwear, and eliminate man-made attractants (food, beverages, and trash).

Remember, we need the bees and the bees need us to see their value. By balancing your landscape and respecting bees’ natural habits and habitats, we can encourage a healthy bee population and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Article Kindly written for Grantham Beekeepers by;
Christy Erickson

Sunday, 1 October 2017

4 Ways to Transform Your Fall Garden Into a Haven for Bees

There’s a buzz these days around protecting bees. Their populations have been in decline in recent years, which is a serious problem because we rely on them for our food supply. Thankfully, there’s quite a bit we can all do to protect bee populations year-round. We tend to think of colorful blossoms throughout summer as attracting butterflies and other pollinators, but there’s no need to leave our pollinator gardens behind when fall comes. With trees, herbs, and late blooming plants, we can have beautiful pollinator gardens well into fall.

Bee populations have taken a hit in recent years, and reversing this trend is critical to maintaining food supply. The XercesSociety, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bees, reports that bees are “necessary for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species.” Two of the primary reasons for the decrease of the bee population are pesticide use and loss of habitats. The good news is we can easily create home gardens that tackle both of these problems.

Avoid pesticides - Avoiding all pesticide use is ideal so opt for natural pest deterrents instead, if at all possible. If you do use pesticides, look for the least toxic option. The national Forest Service recommends reading labels carefully because some pesticides are more harmful to bees than others. You can also minimize the impact to pollinators by only spraying at night when pollinators are not active.

Plant in clusters - As you add late blooming plants, group them in clusters rather than using individual plants so that pollinators are able to find them more easily. Keep these groupings close together in one part of your yard so that pollinators have a central spot that’s ideal for them. Planting these groupings close together also provides shelter for pollinators and camouflage to protect them from predators.

Choose plants wisely - In order to attract pollinators, plant a variety of colours and also choose flowers that smell nice. If you’re attracted to the smell, bees will be too. Even if you live in an urban area, you can still provide a fall bee habitat by planting a container garden with herbs, perennials, and late season annuals. If you have more space, fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. These give you beautiful leaves in the fall, and you can look forward to blossoms in early spring before most other flowers are in bloom. Many of these plants look good year-round, such as hydrangeas, Pagoda dogwood, and ninebarks. When choosing your fall plants, make sure to avoid hybrid flowers because these breeds may have eliminated the pollen and nectar that bees need.

Provide a home for bees - You can help honeybees flourish as the weather gets cooler by creating a welcoming environment for them in your garden. Some bee species nest underground, while others use openings in natural material like tree limbs. For bees that nest underground, the LA Times suggests leaving some patches of ground that are undisturbed and without mulch to give bees a spot to nest. As you transition your garden for fall, you can help pollinators by leaving some sticks and fallen branches instead of clearing them all away. You can add a beautiful rustic addition to your fall garden by building an insect house where bees can lay eggs. Some bees need water and may not get as much as they need from nectar during the fall. A bird bath placed close to your plants provides a source of water that helps bees throughout fall, and even into winter in warmer climates, but remember to put a few stones in the bottom so the bees don't drown!!

With the increasing loss of natural habitats for bees, home gardens are becoming essential to their survival. Make your garden as bee-friendly as possible well into fall by providing late blooming plants, trees, and the other eco habitats they need to survive. You get much more enjoyment from your garden by adding plants that look great year round, and pollinators will thrive thanks to your efforts.

Article written by Christy Erickson.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Beekeeping for the Shaded Landscaping, (Guest posting by Chrisy Erickson)

I recently received an email which I have copied below for you to read,


Just following up on my recent article offer. I’d still love to write for
you about the importance of bees and what we can do to help them.

I love this time of year because my local farmer’s market is overflowing
with fresh fruits and veggies and beautiful flowers, but without bees, we
wouldn’t have any of it.

Please help me spread the word about the important role bees play in our
food production and how we can protect them in our own backyards.

Thank you!

Christy Erickson

It was really nice to have someone outside of Grantham District showing an interest in the blog so I jumped at Christy's offer and below is her first (but hopefully not last!!) article. The article isn't necessarily aimed at beekeepers but I think learning how you can help the bees even without having hives is of the utmost importance and often the first step many of us beekeepers took!! There are also some great links within the article to check out too.

Thank you Christy for choosing Grantham Beekeepers to help  you spread the word!!

Beekeeping for the Shaded Landscaping

Anemones, a pollen-producing perennial for the shade garden, via Pixabay

You just purchased a new home and you’re excited to work in the garden and make it your own. Knowing that bee populations are imperiled, perhaps you want to do your part and create a bee-friendly atmosphere. But where do you begin?

As a refresher, here are the amazing things bees do for us:

Why Bees Are Important

     They’re essential to nature, pollinating 75-80% of the flowering plants on the earth.
     They’re essential to our human food supply; some scientists estimate that one in three bites of food is the result of various pollinators.
     The bees make honey, which is delicious and has nutritional and health benefits.

Causes for Decline

Several causes for global decline of the bees come into play such as pesticide use, industrial agricultural practices, parasites, and global warming. Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, a confusing, mysterious syndrome that affected many bee colonies in the U.S. in years past, is not as much of a concern as it once was.

How to Help

There are a few ways in which all of us can help the bees.
     Plant a pollinator garden. This would include planting pollen-producing plants, planting in a location that breaks the wind, grouping native or non-invasive plants together, planting year-round color and perennials, and making sure you have adequate moisture.
     Buy honey (and other meat and produce) from farmers in your area to support local agriculture.
     Consider becoming a beekeeper. Many resources can easily be found online.
     Commit to taking a holistic, organic approach to your lawn. Find alternatives to pesticides.

By making your garden, or even part of it, a haven for bees, you can do wonders for their populations and have beautiful scenery to boot. 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Not as it seems.

So a while ago I got a call from a lady who believed she may have a honey bee problem. It was her gardener who had pointed it out to her so I went for a look and did indeed confirm that she had honey bees going in and out of a gap in her flashing on her chimney breast, not a huge amount so my thinking was it was possibly a swarm that had only just moved in as I also saw no drones

Due to it being a bungalow it wasn't overly high up but I'm no builder so enlisted a little help before going back and tackling the situation.

I went back with two of our members who were a little more 'In the know' when it came to dismantling and putting back together walls and I stood with a camera whilst they got to work!!

As is often the way....things weren't as they first appeared!!

As you can see from the pictures once we got the flashing pulled back and the first roof tile removed we discovered there was no cavity at all as it was totally filled in with cement but what we did find was the remnants of a bumble bee nest.
The honey bees had obviously been robbing out anything that was there, We saw grubs that were alive but no bumbles bothered us so not really sure if these were bumble bee larvae or something else altogether but needless to say we left them be and put everything back together.

So...moral of the story....never make just one observational trip when it is such an involved job...make several visits so you can asses what is really going on!

Sunday, 20 August 2017


There really is no explanation needed for such a stunning specimen!

Friday, 11 August 2017

The Great British Beekeepers' Association Bees in Art Competition 2017

The B.B.K.A are having an art competition. The competition is open for all ages and falls into three categories;

Up to 12 years
12-18 years
18 and over.

Below is the leaflet which I received, the competition is open to all but there are only 20 days left to enter as the closing date is 31st August 2017.

The theme for the competition is 'Sound and Vision' so if you think either yourself or your children can get creative then you'll find all the info below.

Good luck!!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Andrews Open Apiary. (01/07/17)

After some poor weather for this time of year things improved enough for us to look through the hives during last Saturday's open apiary (01/07/17) at Sunnyside Smallholding (facebook page @sunnysidesmallholding).
Andrews three colonies were all very different; a recently housed swarm that had already drawn out a lot of comb and filled with nectar but no sign of the queen laying yet, a small colony that seemed to be struggling and maybe needed feeding and a 'normal' colony with brood and nearly two supers of honey. Hopefully this was a useful mix for the new beekeepers to see first hand. Prize goes to Tracey for spotting a queen - well done.

I would like to thank Tracey (our newest member) for sharing her photos.

Thanks also go to Andrew for hosting, please check out his facebook page (link above) for some great info on his small holding and how he goes about getting things done. He also sells great tasting pork!!

Andrew has wooden standard
national hives.

The first peek into
the hive.
The bees were very well

All looked busy...
and very healthy.

Bees on honeycomb.

It's a little like 'Where's Wally?'
when you go into a brood box.

But always an honour to
meet the queen.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Queen Rearing by Stewart

So today I've started the first stage of Queen rearing with one of my colonies. For those of you who came to my talk in October, my method is a little rougher round the edges than what you read in the books but basically it's a similar principle, just a bit quicker and a bit less faff....

Basically you need to make a colony make queen cells from eggs and one day old larvae.

To do this I've used two colonies, firstly a donor hive and secondly the queen cell builder hive.

From the donor hive I cut out some cells from a frame of brood containing eggs and day old larvae. The cell builder hive needs to be Queen less and strong, you would normally just take the Queen out for a week or so and pop her in a mini nuc but in this case I've had a very mysterious and unexplained disappearance of one of my queens and the colony is relatively strong so I've used them. It's important to remove ALL emergency queen cells that they may have made and so now they are hopeless and unable to raise a queen.

I then take the eggs and larvae from the donor hive and put them into a specially prepared frame that goes into the queenless cell builder hive who will then build these out and raise queens from them.

The important thing is that I stick these cells on the bottom of the top bar of the frame pointing downwards in the correct orientation for a queen cell so they can build a proper queen cell rather than an emergency cell as these are always small and therefore produce poor queens.

 Some people use an empty frame for this but I used an old frame full of pollen and just cut out a slot in the wax at the top and halfway down, I think the bees use quite a bit of pollen to make the Royal Jelly so I figured if they had plenty of pollen next to the queen cells it wouldn't be a bad thing.

The photo sequence shows this stage from beginning to end.

Cut slot in old frame

Non standard bee equipment - kitchen knife

Frame ready with two slots

Donor hive

 Frame with eggs and day old larvae in donor hive

 Frame with eggs and day old larvae in donor hive

Cut eggs and larvae out of donor hive

Eggs and larvae

Eggs and larvae
Put frame back in donor hive
Put frame back in donor hive

Retreat to kitchen to stick cells into prepared frame

Melt wax to enable cells to be stuck in

Stick cells in correct orientation for queen cells

Stick cells in correct orientation for queen cells

More stuck in

Go to queen cell builder hive make room for frame
with queen cell and remove any emergency cells

Frame with eggs and larvae goes into cell builder hive

Shut them up

All back together - fingers crossed

Basically I used a lighter to melt the wax on the frame with pollen and just roughly stuck the cells taken from the donor hive onto it.

In theory they should now raise queen cells from these donor eggs and larvae, we'll see if they obey the rules when I check them in a week.

Thanks Stewart for sharing your method of queen rearing with us. If anyone has any questions for Stewart then feel free to ask in the comments section and if anyone else has anything they would like to share on the blog with us then I would love to hear from you....remember you don't have to be a bee-keeper or a member of Grantham just has to have some of bees going about their business, People's bee friendly gardens....any of the solitary or bumble bees/houses would be great too.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Why we should all grow dandelions!!