It’s been incredibly rewarding to watch the bees recover from their starvation stress over spring and summer. As always, the weather threw a couple of curve balls our way, and that made life interesting for sure!
The unusual hot weather in spring had some interesting consequences and we had to keep a close eye on our hives to manage swarming behaviour. All the hives threatened to swarm and some of them two or three times! But close and careful management prevented it from happening for the majority.
Needless to say, it was a spring that tested our beekeeping skills to the max and highlights to us yet again the amount of biodiversity we have in Canberra.
Some people let their hives swarm but there are consequences for a hive if it swarms. Sure, the hive does “go out and multiple” as some people say, but in an urban environment bees that “go out and multiply” can also be a bit of nuisance and they face an uncertain future.
There are lots of things that can go wrong that can lead to an unhealthy, struggling hive. We think its actually better (and more kind) not to travel that road with our bees so we do everything we can to prevent swarming. “Swarm management” is something that we feel quite passionate about, but to be fair, we also recognise other people have different opinions on this one.
Something we can all agree on – is that over summer Canberra seemed to be in full bloom. Our bees were very busy collecting stores again for winter. It’s wonderful to be looking toward autumn with healthy Canberra hives who have plenty of stores of honey and pollen.
As a family we are now transferring our generational knowledge to Mitchell, who is a fourth generation beekeeper and we know, with time, that we can make a significant contribution to the sustainability of the city we love into the future. Its In the not too distant future Canberra will have a beekeeper with a century of beekeeping heritage behind him.
-- Mitchell Pearce
Vale dear Astrid. May you rest in peace, lovely one.
With a struggling hive that appears to be starving, have you ever considered feeding regularly with bakers fondant/sugar water?
Hi Rachel Yes, sometimes we do feed raw sugar. Some of our family have recently used sugar syrup to stimulate hives to lay brood. But they are in a warmer climate and are also located in an area that has a good supply of natural nectar and pollen. We are anticipating a late winter frost and our spring nectar isn’t abundant yet. So, even if we were going to use sugar syrup we wouldn’t use it just yet. We don’t use bakers fondant. We don’t consistently or regularly use sugar syrup because we prefer our bees to use their stored honey and pollen.