After one hot week of sunshine (hey it’s the UK – anything over 22 degrees is hot ok!), the weather turned a little too cold for our bees at the North London Beekeepers Apiary on Sunday which meant we couldn’t open the hives for long.
There was plenty of other housekeeping to be done. As other beekeepers kept themselves busy cleaning frames and tidying up, us beginners made some sugar syrup to feed the bees in the observation glass that is housed in the North London Beekeepers special shed, and practised marking queen bees.
The Queen bee is often marked with a coloured felt pen on her back so she can easily be spotted in a 70,000 strong hive. This can be a tricky task as trying to pin her down to restrict her movement without squishing her is one thing, then marking her in the right place is another as getting the marker on her wings or body will make the other bees think she is damaged which is definitely… not cool.
So understandably, they don’t let any old sneezing idiot with hayfever and a shaky hand have a go. They will however allow you to practise on a Drone bee as they are slightly larger than Worker bees and don’t do any work. They also don’t sting which is a huge bonus.
We managed to get the hives open long enough to pop a few in a bucket so we could get some practise in.
The bees at North London Beekeepers are also lovely and calm so a little reasoning and good manners meant my drone happily wondered onto the practice polystyrene board and let me pin him down without accidentally spiking him. I marked him as best as I could as a first timer and I think Derek here looks wonderful. How he’s going to explain this back at the hive though, I have no idea.
Guess they’ll be known as drag queens!