This time of year you often get excited phone calls from friends who have spotted a swarm. Often people haven’t had the privilege of witnessing a swarm first hand and it’s easy to detect the wonder in their voices. I had one of those calls from my friend, Jen, who chanced upon a swarm just landing in her local park while out with her kids. This was what we had been waiting for – it was time to spring into action. After gathering a crack squad of swarm catchers, Eustace and Jess, a vehicle and all the equipment we needed, we arrived on the scene. After some time of searching we found the young colony clustering quite high up a tree. Then, on a borrowed ladder, Eustace (the tallest member of the team) shook the bees off the branch into a cardboard box. We placed a Warre box on top and the bees moved into that. We then waited for the sun to do down and the the scouts bees to return before we moved them to their new home – the castle climbing centre.
The Castle right on the busy green lanes is not where you might expect to find a 1 acre kitchen garden boasting veg plots, a forest garden, medicinal herbs and a reciprocal roofed roundhouse but it is one of the many hidden garden gems throughout London. The Castle set up the garden to provide high quality, local, sustainable food for their cafe but it does more than that by providing a space that reconnects us to the land and our food. It seems fitting that such a spot should have bees too – and now they do.
The bees have settled in to their new home and are building comb very quickly – nearly filling one Warre box already. The hive has already received much attention from the community that use the garden and I’m sure that they will continue to. For me seeing people light up when they see the hive and then being able to introduce them to the bees is a massive joy. It confirms in me the importance of community apiaries, spaces where people can meet and interact with bees, learning about these wonderful organisms.