The Joy of Caring for Bees
The more we work with bees, the more we appreciate these amazing little creatures. We always say that our bees are like our family.
And, just like family, bees love to be nurtured. At this time of the year our main job is to make sure they are snuggled up, safe and warm. But there are many other things that we do to keep our bees healthy and happy.
At the heart of keeping healthy bees is hive location. We put a huge amount of effort into finding great places for our hives, favouring hideaway places in remote areas. While the bees can regulate the temperature of their hives, fanning themselves if it gets too hot, they prefer a sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind.
Our next checkpoint is pollen sources. While dense patches of Mānuka are great when they are flowering, if we left the bees in such places during the winter they would starve as Manuka only flowers for a 4 to 6 week period. We try to make sure there is a good number of flowering species near the hives where the bees can forage on warm days.
A safe water source is also crucial. This usually takes the form of a small creek or stream. Water sources are rich in vitamins and micronutrients that are important for bee health. They don’t just drink for themselves, but carry the water back to the hive in their crops. If you are thinking about adding a water feature in your garden, make sure there is something like lily pads for the bees to land safely on. A rock that sticks out of the water is great and shallow areas with pebbles. The bees will love you for it!
Our bees also need us to help protect them from disease. We conduct four disease checks every year. When inspecting a hive, our beekeepers always check to see that the queen is healthy and strong. In a beehive, everything revolves around the queen and keeping her safe.
On these cold winter days, we have to take extra care when checking hives. We never open the lid off a hive if it is too cold. Bees are just like us. They hate it when they are all nicely snuggled up and somebody opens a door and lets out all the heat! Our rule of thumb is ‘no peeking before 9am or after 4pm.’ And even then, only on a nice warm day. If we have to move our bees, we always do it at night when they are all safely tucked up.
Although we check in on our bees regularly, we only have one honey season, from December to March. We never take honey outside these times. On our visits, the bees are mostly just humming along and happy to ignore us.
Bees play such an important role in our ecosystems. These little creatures don’t just give us honey — they are essential to pollination and food production. With so many environmental pressures these days, bees everywhere need all the help that they can get.
We take great pleasure in caring for bees and ensuring that they live healthy and happy lives. It really is a joy. We believe when it comes to appreciating the little things in life, you can’t go past the sight of a honey bee working happily among the flowers.