William Woodley (1845 - 1923) was a pioneer in 'Modern Beekeeping', a champion at the show-bench, the owner and operator of Britain's largest bee-farm, was presented to Queen Victoria, an owner of the world's first mass-produced car, and a prolific writer. His commentary of the Isle of Wight disease, a disease which wiped-out ninety per cent of the honeybee population in the British Isles, is his most significant contribution to the world of beekeeping. Woodley's story charts the rise and fall of British beekeeping.
In today's blog I write about weather protection for straw skeps. In 2014 when I visited Chris Park's apiary at Watchfield, I saw this hackle and beneath it was a straw skep with honeybees living in it.
I and the Vale and Downland Beekeepers Association visited Chris Parks apiary in Watchfield. Chris has done a lot of research into traditional forms of beekeeping. He is best know for making skeps which are straw baskets for keeping bees in.
I thought this photo is interesting by reason of where the honeybees are pointing their bottoms. I had just got this swarm into the nucleus box but the bees knew that some of the foraging bees returning back might not find them in their new home (the nucleus hive).
Any object which is waterproof, dry, contains a reasonable cavity and a small defendable entrance, might be a great home for honeybees.
The homeowner at Charlton Heights, Wantage, found Honeybees in their lapboard shed. In fact, the building was formerly a sauna which was built by the previous occupant who was a jockey. Behind the lapboard (see photo below) was a cavity which was 30cm deep and filled with insulation.
The photo above is a paulownia tree in East Hanney with honeybees living inside it. Tree cavities were the original home of the honeybees.
The photo above is of a partially constructed polystyrene hive. It provides the honeybees with a hive that has superior thermal properties.
I am in the process of setting up a new apiary. I am the leaseholder on a half hectare plot of land which is located on the remote Berkshire Downs. (the video below explains everything)
This is meant to be winter? No one told my honeybees whose home is in a Maisemore Polystyrene Hive – there was so much activity at the hive entrance you might be forgiven for thinking it was springtime. I would expect for a mild winter’s day for there to be some hive activity and for the bees to be taking a hygiene flight. But the scale of activity took me by surprise! Maybe it is early days to make a conclusion – but could this amount of bee activity be due to the superior insulation properties of poly-hives? See for yourself by watching the video in this post…