Graham, our Scottish representative, has sent this update on the situation north of the border.  I'll be back again next week!
I recently wrote in BeeCraft magazine about my efforts at this time of year to get a crop of both Bell heather and Ling heather honey. If everything was going to plan this year, now would be the time to put a couple of hives up onto the moor near my home in rural Aberdeenshire. The Bell is in flower and is calling the bees to come and get its delicious nectar.

Unfortunately, nature has other ideas. As I write this, the midday temperature is 12 degrees Celsius, it’s windy and the rain is unceasing. Worse still, that’s pretty much the forecast up here for at least the next couple of weeks. Bear in mind that a hive heading to the moor for heather honey is packed with bees and will have a brood nest covering perhaps eight frames. So, it’s not carrying much in the way of stores. If exiled to high moorland in weather conditions that confine the bees to the hive, a colony like this is almost certain to face starvation.

The timely reminder for me this month, then, is this. Although we think of our bees as miraculous in many ways, they can’t perform miracles. No Bell honey this year.

All is not lost, though. Even with the poor weather, the less extreme conditions at lower altitude will allow the bees at my home apiary to get out, at least for brief spells each day. The White Clover is abundant, and the Rosebay Willowherb is just starting to bloom. The Lime trees won’t be far behind. These are three crucial forage crops around my local area. And in the meantime, I’m preparing the supers that will go on the hives heading for the moor at the start of August, when conditions are sure to be perfect and the Ling heather honey crop record-breaking. You have to be positive!

If you want to find out more about the relationship between honeybees and plants, you’ll enjoy Celia Davis’ book, The Honey Bee Around and About. It’s available from the Bee Craft online shop.



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