Here is beekeeper and Chain Bridge Honey Farm owner Willie Robson looking through the bees in a Spring site close to the Honey Farm. Willie is looking in the brood chamber where the queen has laid eggs which will hatch into young bees. Some of the brood will hatch into drones (males) and some will be workers (females).
I asked Willie why he was not wearing any gloves and he replied: “A bee stung my finger because I bumped it. At this time of year the bees are quiet. They just want to look after themselves. It’s only later on in the year when they’ve got a bit of honey and they’ve got a lot of guard bees (bees that guard the entrance to the hive) that they’re interested in stinging me. But if I go through them methodically they won’t sting me. It’s a matter of aptitude. You go into them and they’re not frightened of you. If they’re frightened and they think you’re incompetent they will sting you.”
Willie went on to say that the site they were in was sheltered from the westerly winds and that some helpful heat would come off the wall behind the hives. You can see in the film that the bees have some white fondant, which provides back up food for the winter. Willie showed me a ‘blanket’ of insulation which goes in the top of the hive to keep the bees warm. A stick at the front entrance of the hive also keeps the wind out.
The bees were visiting wild cherry, or ‘gean’ trees as they’re known, to collect pollen and nectar. Willie said the oil seed rape was in the next field over, well within flying distance for the bees.