Apis is one year old this week. And to celebrate, I am proud to announce that "oval" is the winner of our "Name The Mystery Seedling" competition. (It was basil !)
As a townie, I am starting to learn about country beekeeping. For example, fields of oilseed rape are not common in London. In Suffolk, careful management of strong bee colonies close to these flying carpets of canary-coloured flowers is required if you are not to lose an early swarm - or if you do not require a good deal of hard-to-extract, solid-setting rape honey.
Bermondsey Street Bees has initiated a planting of bee-friendly fruit bushes and trees supplied by BOST (Bankside Open Spaces Trust) in Leathermarket Gardens SE1 (opposite Bermondsey Village Hall, against the brick walls of the Guinness Trust Buildings) from 10.00am to 12 noon on Friday 21st March 2014. This will provide serious long-term forage for bees – with resilient, hardy, fruiting perennials.Come and join us !
It's clear that the Bermondsey Street Bees have started 2014 in excellent condition. I've put on new hive floors (complete with spanking-new, white-painted landing boards) to replace the grimy, overwintered ones, so I know that the hives are heavy with honey stores. And I can see plenty of pollen going in.
Since things are looking just the way nature intended, I’m resisting the temptation to open up Shard, Abbey and Thames hives for another fortnight, despite last weekend's lush temperatures. My impulse to crack open the crownboards for the first inspectuion is being kept in check by the readings from my in-hive Humidity/Temperature monitors which tell me that Humidity is below 50% and the temperatures on top of the brood nests are all over 31C. And there are lots of "orientation flights" being made by newly-flying bees at the hive entrance. Putting that all together leads me to believe that there is brood in the boxes.
Just standing and looking at the hypnotic, baton-swinging intensity of a bee working a parade of blue crocus, I had a flashback, like stumbling down a rabbit-hole of recollection. A penknife-sharp retrieval, a slice of memory, back to a time when, as the eldest child of political activists, I was conscripted into the ritual of "hedge-hopping" .
An adventure is when you start a journey not knowing where it will end. So when I set off to the Caribbean, in search of a typical beekeeper on the island of Barbados, my quest had all the component parts of an adventure: a new destination and no inkling of how an outcome might be achieved. This was deliberate. I wanted to meet an ordinary beekeeper. My research had already identified my namesake, the bajan beekeeping supremo, Rudy Gibson, as the hottest hand on the island. But I was determined to find my beekeeper by trusting to chance, rather than idly clicking through Google or TripAdvisor. My plan was to arrive in Barbados, don sunglasses, shorts and flip-flops and just keep my eyes and ears open.