Swarming season @ the Castle

The Castle is an amazing place to be at swarming season. The Garden is well used and the people who use it are very considerate and mindful of the honeybees on site. This means that it is very likely that someone will notice when the bees swarm. This year there have been lots of swarms and it has been an wonderful experience, clearly showing me what an opportunity honeybees swarms are to inform people about the lives of bees and to give people a visceral experience of being in relationship with honeybees.

I offered some training before the swarming season started with various members of staff. This meant that many people within the centre understand the biology of honeybee swarms and know how to respond. It has been amazing to watch people get involved. We now have an experienced team of swarm catchers all confident and comfortable around the bees.

The other reason why it is great at the Castle is that it is full of people with the technical know how to climb more or less anywhere. So when our first swarm of the season landed high on the ramparts of the Castle, Gav and Dan didn’t bat an eyelid and swiftly arranged what was needed to safely access the cluster. This swarm was a delight to catch and is now settling in to the topbar hive in the apiary and building comb at an impressive rate.


This swarm landed on the rampart above the buttress with the apricot tree growing on it. Probably 10m high(ish)



Here’s a close up. This was a relatively large swarm and the bees were spread out on the surface rather that in a tight cluster

Gav took some amazing footage and compiled this video


Since then we have had several more swarms. James heroically caught a swarm when I wasn’t around and then drove it up to my other apiary. I’ve never had a swarm delivery before! We are now at the point where the Castle staff are totally relaxed when the bees swarm and are willing and able to catch the swarms themselves. The Castle apiary has now grown to 3 families. They are all settling in, building comb furiously and foraging well.


This is the most recent swarm. They settled in a beautiful cluster that was easy to access. 

This is another video Gav made of us catching the latest swarm.


With the advent of more bee families at the Castle we decided it was time to name them. We opened it up for volunteers and staff to suggest possible names (which they did with gusto!) and after a rigorous decision making process we settled on Notorious Bee. I. G (for the older warre), Hive rise (for the new warre) and Beyonce (for the topbar). The notable runner up was Beeda Fabrizio!


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