We are well into the season now and there has been lots of wonderful progress since our last update. It has been an exceptionally busy time for the hives at Worthing Leisure Centre Apiary and, most notably, for our Worthing Honey Collective beekeepers. Excited to report that our beekeeping community has increased in size and we have a new team of ‘beekeepers in training’ on the weekly rota.

So. On to our Quirky Queenies :

Queen Agatha. Affectionately known as Aggie, a queen in her prime – now 3 years old – and her colony growing strong. I personally inspected Queen A this morning and the entire hive is thriving, with plenty of stores, brood and visible honey. A very active hive with a nice temperament. Clearly plenty of foraging and pollen collection happening.  A few practise cups now visible on weekly inspections. Not long now until we add another super. This hive will be split is due course for onwards travel to our new Brooklands Park Apiary.

Queen Flo The Second:  This hive was recently moved from ‘King Bee Keeper’ Tony’s garden into our Air Bee and Bee site. We are delighted to report that Queen Florence’s Daughter is thriving and her hive growing strong. A calm hive with plenty of pollen, brood and stores recently recorded.

Queen Beeyonce: A lovely active colony of queen, drones, workers and house bees. You can really feel the heat from this busy hive. Then one becomes two. Ahead of the game – our Queen B was split just last week. House bees and brood were separated from the Queen and flying bees. Both are coping well with the transition. In a short space of time the brood hive has grown 2 very nice looking large capped queen cells. If we can obtain a viable queen from one of these, she will be moved to Queen Latifa’s colony…

Queen Victoria: Part of the furniture now, 3 years old and going strong. We have recently reintroduced Queen V back into her colony – after a stint with her daughter did not work out. The hive is strong and growing with ample brood on show. Stores were low this week though so we topped her up with sugar solution to keep them going.  Beekeeper Neils suspects that Queen V’s colony are affected by the colder season and late spring, reducing flower forage and bee activity.

Queen Broodica: We noticed our lovely queen was failing and have been keeping a close eye on her. Something which is very difficult when it has been cold and wet outside. We separated our Queen from her hive and installed one of the Beeyonce frames and bees. When this did not work we installed one of Aggies frames and bees. Then we prayed. We are very happy to report that in just one week we inspected active bees, visible brood and two well formed queen cups. A huge sigh of relief. Queen Broodica is currently residing elsewhere on site with a large dollop of fondant to see if we can revive her.

Queen Latifa: This queen and her colony are definitely more ‘assertive’ in temperament. There is a different pitch to the buzzing, a higher energy and power to the colony. The experienced beekeepers have therefore decided to remove the queen and re-queen with a calmer leader to manage the future temperament of the colony – possibly with a new queen from the Beeyonce split. This hive seems incredibly intent on making a new queen in their Queens absence. We squashed a further 10 queen cups and 6 queen cells with larvae this week. Lots of honey, stores, dark and heavy frames and brood –  we even witnessed the birth of a baby bee recently.

Queen Nameless: Liz ‘Our Bee Boss Lady’ purchased a new nuc of bees and a rather ‘plump’ queen from Paynes farm – also bound for the new Apiary. These are ‘temporarily’ housed in one of our beekeepers gardens. We took time to settle them before they were transferred to their new hive home. These Brookland bees have started to build quickly, drawing out all the foundation frames within short space of time.  We are currently running a ‘Name the Queen’ competition on our social channels. Suggestions welcome in the comments below.

We are lucky to have procured some bees at this time due to a lockdown surge in beekeeping popularity!

As you can see each queen has a different temperament and character and, therefore each hive a different dynamic. A study by entomologists at the University of Illinois demonstrated that bees have distinct ‘personalities’. Researchers found that some bees show a stronger willingness or desire to seek adventure. Interesting that this trait is not just limited to humans and other vertebrates. We can certainly feel this when conducting our weekly bee inspections.

Please watch this space for further updates: we are committed to running workshops and events at the new Apiary, now that restrictions are easing. We are all passionate about educating future generations and the local community on the vital role of pollinators within our food chain.