Our beekeepers, Khalil and Salma, have kindly provided an update on the season so far.

This year spring came early and the bees were able to start foraging from late February. This, alongside the early spring rains, gave the bees a very good start to the year. They took full advantage of the early forage and started expanding from early March. In fact, we had to start managing swarming late April.

Checking for Varroa

We were able to run two beekeeping courses this year with 8 students per course. Once again, the courses were very popular and sold out. Our first course was held in May and was very well received. As the colonies had build up quickly this year, the students had the advantage of being taught on large full colonies.

Lighting a smoker

By the end of the 4 sessions all our students were able to identify all stages of brood, understand what constitutes a healthy hive, manage swarming, identify common ailments, safely manage their own colony of bees, and learnt how to manage their hives throughout the year, etc.

Checking a very busy hive entrance (video, 24s)

The Maryam Centre observation hives have also done very well this year. We successfully re-queened both colonies, as we noticed the hives last year had become somewhat defensive. The overly defensiveness has now ceased.

The hives managed to bring in honey quite early this year. However, the weather over the last months has been very hot and dry which has resulted in a lack of nectar in the plants. The bees will now start to use the honey they have brought in which we have left on the hives. We will be removing the remaining excess honey over the next month to treat the hives for the varroa mite. This we do using only organic methods to ensure the colonies are as strong as possible for Winter.

Although the heat has been quite intense this year, the bees have managed to keep cool without any assistance from us. They have a great ability to cool the hives by collecting water, depositing the water around the inside of the hive and then fanning the hive to removing excess heat. The outside of the hive may well be over 40 degrees Celsius (the metal roof may well be over 60c), yet they are able to keep the internal temperate as a consistent 36–37 degrees.

A passing swarm stops to rest on the LMC roof (video, 17s)

A few years ago we had quite a large swarm land near the dome, this year we had a large swarm land on the roof whilst we were doing our inspections. Swarms are homeless and just looking for a place to live. As we didn’t have a spare home for them at the time, they decided to continue searching after a few days.

A swarm was spotted in a tree outside the Mosque around the same time. We suspect they have now found their new home.