We were delighted to introduce 3 hives into The Clare Foundation Nature Reserve in 2021.  The three Lindengate hives are thriving and are heading into Winter full of stores. It’s been an interesting year all round and certainly in beekeeping. We started the year with a long cold spell and then went into one of the hottest summers on record.

The long cold spell meant fewer foraging days, but hives bursting with brood waiting to get out and collect pollen and nectar. Inevitably 2022 was a big swarm year and the Lindengate hives were no exception. The hives went from two to three with a timely split, occupying the beautiful new hive paid for by donations to the charity. There is room for more growth and will look to add a new hive to the Lindengate Honey Bee community in the coming months.

The weather affects the amount of nectar available for bees to collect and as we went into long dry spells, we kept a close eye on the reserves in the hive. The rich and diverse floral mix in the meadow, hedgerows ands nearby fields kept the bees supplied and they built up a supply of honey that will keep them all through winter, with a surplus that might end up on toast!

The most important thing for us to do is to keep the bees healthy, so we inspect them weekly throughout the summer, looking for signs of stress or disease. We also keep a close eye on the queens – they aren’t always easy to find in a hive of 60,000!

Our next mission is to get them through winter. As many people know, not all hives survive. Issues such as the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and weather conditions all take their toll. Bees don’t hibernate, they reduce in number towards the end of the year to around 5-10,000. These bees cluster around the queen, constantly moving to keep her warm.

Winter bees live longer than summer bees, so although there may be small amounts of brood, generally the queen doesn’t lay anything like the 1500 eggs a day that she would in the summer. Winter bees need energy to keep moving, in the form of honey.  Lindengate’s bees have a done a great job this year and have made more than enough to keep them going.

As we head towards winter we have one final task, which is to reduce the size of the hive. We take off the honey supers so that the bees have less space to heat. With fewer bees, they don’t need as much room. When the weather drops below 15C in the day, we will leave them alone until spring, occasionally hefting the hive to check the weight of honey remaining. We can top them up with a feed made from sugar if necessary.

Our huge thanks to “Ben the Bee Man”, of Glazier Design, who has been looking after our bees, since their arrival in 2021.  Ben is regularly onsite to ensure that the bees are happy.  Due to the biodiverse enviroment that they are in, they continue to thrive, under his supervision.

If you’d like to support our bees, or any other projects at Lindengate, please donate today, or get in touch and email: info@lindengate.org.uk