Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bait hives for honey bees

My friend Tanya is a natural beekeeper- that is, one that does not use chemicals and tries to encourage as natural a life cycle as possible for her colonies. She has loaned me two bait hives, one for each of my orchards in Charingworth. Bait hives are the empty first story of a hive that has been used by a colony previously. Theoretically, the smell of residual amounts of propolis and wax attracts scout bees that are on the look out for a new home for a naturalised colony that is ready to swarm. This swarm then may colonise the hive, and as it grows you can gradually increase the size of the beehive to accommodate them. The bees will then help pollinate the orchard effectively, and you can harvest HONEY from them! Mmmm.

Have a look at this secret glade I made in the 1940s orchard last week using my strimmer. It is quite magical to be enclosed by blossoming trees on all sides.


  1. Your orchard is looking absolutely wonderful.
    Up the road from me on the IoW there's a large spreading Pear tree, reckoned to be from the 18th century, which I see has fruit swelling now. A bus stop nearby is for Pear Tree Corner. Are any places around you named after orchards or fruit trees?

  2. Already fruit swelling - wow tasty med climate you must enjoy down there! Chipping Camdpden (down the road in Gloucestershire) has a 'pear tree cottage' and a 'cherry orchard'. Kingham (Oxfordshire) has an 'orchard way'. Those are the only two I can think of off hand but there are lots nationwide, and sadly this is very often because the orchard was what the houses have replaced. Like your blog... I saw some early purple orchids in Foxholes Nature reserve two weeks ago. Well worth checking out if you are ever in Oxfordshire - it has superb unimproved hay meadows and nine bat species!


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