The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology is maintaining a beehive on behalf of 2BScientific. Their beekeepers will regularly send us updates on how their buzzy bees are doing – below is the latest blog! Stay tuned to know more!
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The LMBees have been hunkered down over the winter. In order to survive the winter they bunch up into a tight ball to conserve heat, and to keep their energy levels up they feed off their honey reserves. One way to check how healthy the colonies are is to use a thermal camera to image the hive. This is exactly what Geoff, the LMB master apiarist, did in November 2018 when the outside temperature was pretty cold.
Towards the end of last season we had a queen cell develop and this caused the resident queen to move out and find a new home with a selection of worker bees in support. This leaves most of the workers behind awaiting the emergence of the new queen. When the old queen ups and leaves like this it is called a swarm and can happen when a colony is happy and healthy. Geoff and Jo spotted that this was going to happen just in time and set up one of the Nuc’s (a travel box that the bees arrived in), complete with some empty frames, close by in the hope that the swarm would find this a suitable new home. You’ll be pleased to learn that this is exactly what they did and as a result the LMB had three hives at the end of 2018. One concern is that the new hive was only small and might not be able to produce enough honey in a short space of time to see it through the winter, therefore Geoff and Jo supplemented it with a healthy bucket of sugar syrup to give them a fighting chance.
In November when Geoff took the thermal images of the hives he saw no heat signature in the new third hive and feared the worse, but he left them alone so as not to disturb them as in the majority of cases the bees know best. Then, some time in February, when we had an unseasonably warm spell of weather, the bees were happily flying from the original hives and believe it or not from the new hive as-well, great news! Geoff and Jo busily set up some sugar syrup supplements for the hives as although they were flying there were very few flowers around to give them a good supply of nectar to make honey and with it being February it could still turn cold.
Now that Spring has Sprung and the weather is warming up the LMBees are doing very well and you’ll be pleased to hear that all three hives are healthy and full of activity.