On a glorious Friday afternoon, a few of our team jumped into a convertible (armed with sunglasses and ice lollies) to head to the Sophie Allport Beehive – located deep in the idyllic Lincolnshire countryside. After plenty of Pheasant dodging and a couple of U-turns, we rolled up at Bees For Business, to meet our award-winning beekeeper Jez. He and his wife Caroline run an organic farm focused on ethical beekeeping, to help reverse the decline of the honey bee.
We kitted up in dashing apiarist suits – but unfortunately, we didn’t all get the memo to wear matching white shoes. Meanwhile, Jez prepared the smoker with woodchip. This is used to calm the honey bees by signalling them to return to the hive and feed.
On the top of our hive is a syrup, which helps the worker bees to provide for the Queen – particularly during colder periods of weather. Underneath this compartment are the frames of the honeycomb (and thousands of bees).
The hexagon shaped wax cells of the honeycomb are filled with pollen, nectar (from flowers and trees) and honey. They then use their wings to help the water in the honey evaporate. Once at the right consistency, the bees cap the cells with wax to keep the honey at the right consistency.
Our Queen bee, who’s much bigger than the other members of the beehive, is currently laying around 2,000 eggs per day. She does so by finding an empty honeycomb cell, in which she dips the base of her abdomen into to release an egg – at this point, she’d decide the sex of the new bee by laying an unfertilised male egg or a fertilised female egg. Around 3 days later, the egg will hatch into a larva which would then be looked after by the colony until it is ready to pupate when its’ cell is covered in wax.
Jez was very pleased with the progress of our hive. The colony had come through the winter with the same Queen. He’ll soon be adding a ‘super’, where the bees store their excess honey which allows us to take from them without diminishing the supplies that they use.
We were buzzing after a wonderful afternoon, learning all about how the Sophie Allport beehive works and meeting our Queen!
For more information about adopting a beehive for your company visit the Bees For Business website. If you’d like to read more about these incredible creatures, then take a look at 5 reasons why we love Bumblebees & Honey Bees.