As a beekeeper myself I was very pleased to be able to combine business with pleasure at Environet and go down to see the apiary site that The National Bee Centre have set up with funding from Environment Wales. This was a very popular activity and it was as well that Eifion, another Development Officer who is also a beekeeper, and I both had our bee suites with us as the centres stock was soon taken up with 18 of us quickly kitted out.
Some of them were not a very precise fit.
We were very lucky that the weather had brightened and it was going to be possible to see the bees. And it was obvious that for some people this was a bit of a dream coming true, something they had always wanted to do but not got around to before.
Perhaps as many as half of the participants had seen inside a hive before and a couple of them were also beekeepers. We were shown inside a small colony by two volunteers from the centre with a third assisting with the H&S before and after entering the apiary. The apiary currently consists of 4 hives, one of which has an innovative solar powered camera which gives a live feed back to the nearby bee centre.
The bees were very gentle compared to ours and, even though it was a bit chilly, they took it all with out any complaints. I was surprised to find a bunch of wasps who could not storm a small polystyrene nucleus hive through the busy front entrance, which was well carded by a strong colony of bees, so had all got together to start chewing through from the back. I have always maintained wasps are much more intelligent than bees, you can see by the way they watch you, even putting something between you and them and peering around it, but this still surprised me as it clearly demonstrates they have an understanding of ‘inside’ and knew the honey, which they would not be able to smell through polystyrene, was in there.
All in all we had a very enjoyable half hour and it was a real effort to shoo them away from the bees and back to the conference. I bet this particular participant wished he had worn a pair of socks that day though.