I just wanted to touch on the subject of bee breed and location. I’m really sorry for the dad joke too, it had to bee done.
Siting the bees
As part of the whole “where do we put the hive” question, I learned that they need around 10 ft of clear space in front of the hive entrances to allow them to reach their cruising altitudes of 30 ft! Who knew? They also need shelter from strong wind, need dappled sunshine and a nearby water source. Other considerations, such as which direction hives face are human preferences in some climes and I get some of the points. It’s just that bees don’t care. On saying that, in a northern clime I want to give our bees the best chance so I’ll be facing them as close to south east as I can.
To facilitate their requirements, we decided to partition some of the car park and we’re going to erect a partial enclosure for them, to give that dappled shade, protection from the wind and to provide them enough room for take off and landing, as well as additional security. This should work out for them, our guests and our neighbours!
It does mean though that most of the time the bees will be largely invisible until they return to the hive or land on a nearby plant and pollinate in exchange for pollen and nectar. So maybe I’ll install a webcam too.
What type of bee?
The bees we are particularly interested in getting are Black Bees, Apis mellifera mellifera. They are indigenous to the UK and hardy to our weather conditions in Western Scotland. I read an interesting article here that also mentions they are non-prolific, very good at self-management in terms of breeding, as well as being docile if they are of purer strain. This means they are less prone to swarming which is a subject I’ll come onto in a later post.
We’ve also been referred to the beekeepers on the Isle of Colonsay by whomever operates the dormant Kintyre and Mid-Argyll Beekeepers Association page on Facebook and will update if we hear anything back.
Interestingly, as Apis mellifera mellifera are a threatened species, The Beekeeping (Colonsay and Oronsay) Order 2013 was introduced to help conserve the species. More information on that can be found here.
The jury is still out for us on what breed we’ll have, and indeed the decision might be made for us as Colonsay currently have a lot of demand they’re struggling to meet. Not to worry though! We think a good alternative native breed is available elsewhere, so have placed ourselves on their waiting list, just in case!