Two Swarms in one week

May 2, 2010

As old folklore says, “A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon”. I’m not sure what a swarm of bees in April is worth, other than we now need to go and buy another hive….

This week started with great excitement, as on Monday we were called out to help a friend gather a swarm of bee’s that had taken up residence on a rose bush in the garden of an elderly couple in Tongham. It was a first opportunity to put my swarm gathering training to the test, and the swarm were collected up without a hitch and transported away in our “nuc” box to be re-hived. It was fascinating to see a bee colony living wild and they had already started to build natural comb for the queen to lay eggs in. In addition to the obvious concern of the house owners, they couldn’t have survived there so re-hiving is the only option.

Bees tend to swarm if they run out of hive space for the queen to lay her eggs in or if the colony produce queen cells in an attempt to overthrow an ageing queen with a new one. At this point the existing queen and some of the colony will leave to find a new home.

I’m so glad we did our hive inspection the week before as in our own hive at Heatherhurst Grange, space was becoming limited.

The second swarm of the week were swarms of people. Thanks to the Surrey Heath Residents Web Blog we realised that this weekend was the Surrey Heath Show at Frimley Lodge Park. We decided to take a last minute stand to promote our pork sales and although we weren’t fully prepared, we managed to pull together a respectable stall to inform the community of our smallholding. We were amazed at the size, scale and professional organisation of the show that was well attended by thousands of local people. The show is in its third year, but felt like something that had been running for decades, and I didn’t even know it took place within walking distance of Heatherhurst Grange!

Interest in our stand was pretty steady even though we weren’t actively selling anything and the amount of interest in our rare breed pork was very encouraging. Lots of people wanted to talk and look at our pictures and reminisce about how pork used to taste, some had already experienced rare breed, slow grown or free to roam pork but didn’t realise they could get it locally, and others were interested in piglets to rear themselves. We will be breeding piglets for sale later this year to accommodate and interest in our May and June pork tasting events has gone through the roof.

This coming week will see the arrival of a new hive to house our captured bees, and the tagging of our Oxford Sandy & Black’s ears, in readiness for their departure in three weeks time.

We also need to cut the lawns and do a few chores outside so let’s hope the swarm weather returns tomorrow…


One comment

  1. Loving the pictures of the bee keeping.

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