Bee keeping at the Manor
Michael has long held the ambition of raising bees at Lympstone Manor. There are now six hives on the grounds, just set back from the estuary foreshore and surrounded by wildflowers. “Bees are very beneficial not only for our own ecosystem but for the planet,” says Michael. “They not only pollinate, they provide us with beeswax as well as delicious honey. Last year we had our first collection of our own Lympstone Manor honey, and I hope that this year the hives and bees will be even more productive. It will be an absolutely pleasure to be able to serve our own honey to guests at breakfast.”
We caught up with William Dopp our beekeeper to ask him a few questions. Will is a dedicated beekeeper, his passion and knowledge for beekeeping is inspiring and we wanted to share some of his amazing facts and knowledge on our busy friends!
How do we identify a honey bee?
Honey bees have short hair with a golden yellow and brown to black stripes on their abdomen. They have shorter hair than a bumble bee. You will see them hard at work in the flowers in your garden or in the blossom in your trees. If you can’t see them you can generally hear them if it’s quiet enough, for they are usually hard at work, buzzing from flower to flower.
With spring now here are the the bees are waking up?
The bees are warming up and collecting what pollen and nectar they can can to rebuild stores that have been depleted over the winter. They are getting ready for a busy summer ahead!
With such a short life span of a bee, can we expect their numbers to be quite diminished?
A bee in winter can live for only around six months. However, if the numbers do drop in the hive, it doesn’t take long for the queen to get into action and repopulate the hive.
How many bees are there in the hives at the moment and how many can we expect this to grow to?
10,000 – 15,000 bees in the winter and in the summer a healthy hive can have anything from 20,000 – 50,000 bees. A healthy queen can lay up to 1500 eggs a day in the summer.
With the recent warmer weather, how has this affected the bees?
Having early heat waves then going back to cold periods can really throw the bees off while late hot weather can also have an affect on the hive as the queen will keep laying eggs into winter. While bees generally cope with the changing weather, it’s normally the bee keeper that finds it a bit more difficult as we often have to adapt our plans for the year.
What sort of honey will we expect to have later this year?
It varies from location to location, we have a lot of blackberries as well as lavendar around, plus scores of different wild flowers so it depends on what plants they choose to gather nectar from. The weather conditions will also affect honey production.
How much honey do you think you will be able to harvest?
We actually had our first honey harvest last year in August. As is was the first harvest the honey yield wasn’t particularly high, but now the hives are well established we expect to yield more. We have six hives on the grounds. Each hive can produce anything from 20 to 50 pounds of honey, though it all depends on the condition of the colony and the weather.
What do you do with the leftover wax?
We will use the leftover wax and turn it into wax for furniture to ensure we don’t waste any of the by product from the honey.
Best bee fact?
My favourite bee fact, is that bees can actually fly between 15-20mph unladen (When they’re not carrying their harvest of pollen)
Credit: Dop Beekeeping